The state from this academic year will do away with its policy of allotting tenders to private bodies to procure books and other utilities for tribal children, as part of an attempt to stop pilferage of purchased goods and the misuse of government funds. Instead, the government will directly transfer money for these things into the Aadhaar-linked bank accounts of students studying in tribal schools across the state.
There are 547 government schools exclusively for tribal students across Maharashtra, with around 1.87 lakh students. There are an additional 556 aided schools in which 2.10 lakh students study. Also, there are 336 hostels, in which 22,588 such children stay. The utilities provided to the students include uniforms, bedsheets, rugs, pillows, pillow covers, books, umbrellas and shoes. The government spends close to Rs 700 crore on their procurement.
However, there have been increasing complaints regarding the way the commodities are procured through a tendering process, ranging from questions over their quality to the fact that they were being procured at a cost higher than the market price. Under the new initiative, the students of tribal schools could be entitled to receive between Rs 7,500 and Rs 9,500 in their Aadhaar-linked bank accounts every year for buying the essential commodities on their own.