In a serious bid to pacify the agitated Maratha community following the Supreme Court's interim stay on the community-specific quota, the Maharashtra Cabinet on Tuesday took a slew of decisions to provide much needed relief to students and youths.
Maratha students and youths can now get benefits under 10% reservation provided to the Economically Weaker Section in education and government jobs under the Central Act.
Thus far they were not able to get the benefit as they were provided 12% quota in education and 13% in government jobs; the state government had achieved this by creating a special category of socially and educationally backward class under a 2018 legislation, which came into effect after the Bombay High Court upheld it in June 2019.
But since the apex court has given an interim stay on the Maratha quota, the state cabinet has decided to provide benefits to the community under EBS. This will remain in place till the apex court gives a final ruling on the Maratha quota. The government on Monday filed an appeal in the apex court with a plea to vacate the stay.
Further, the Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Tuition Fee Scholarship Scheme, which was earlier implemented for SEBC students, will now be extended to students who have joined EWS. The state government has sanctioned Rs 600 crore for this financial year. Additional funds will be provided, if required.
The Dr Punjabrao Deshmukh Hostel Subsistence Allowance Scheme was earlier applicable for SEBC category and now the same will be applicable to students who have come to EWS. A provision of Rs 80 crore has been sanctioned for this and full funding has been made available. Additional funds will be provided, if required.
Further, the Department of Higher and Technical Education under the Dr Punjabrao Deshmukh Hostel Subsistence Scheme is implementing a scheme to provide government and other buildings to registered institutions for running hostels for the economically weaker section students. This plan will be further accelerated.
The Cabinet has also decided to provide substantial funds and manpower to the Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Research, Training and Human Development Institute (SARATHI), Pune. The Cabinet has agreed to provide R 130 crore to SARATHI for this year. Additional funds will be provided, if required.
Moreover, the Cabinet has approved increase in the share capital by Rs 400 crore of the Annasaheb Patil Economic Backward Development Corporation which provides financial assistance to unemployed youth for entrepreneurship.
The government has already taken a decision to provide jobs in the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) to the heirs of those who died in the agitation that took place between 2016 and 2018 for Maratha reservation. The recruitment will begin as soon as the MSRTC receives the proposals.
Additionally, the government has also decided to withdraw offences filed against the protesters of the Maratha Kranti Morcha. At present, only 26 cases are pending with the government and the action will be completed within a month.
A leading research scholar on Maratha quota Dr Balasaheb Sarate said these decisions will minimize the hardships caused to the Maratha community students and youths after the apex court stay. ‘’ It is important that all these decisions have been supported by necessary budgetary provisions in the form of scholarships and reimbursement of hostel charges. This is an affirmative action by the government to maintain the peaceful social fabric of the state,’’ he noted.