The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra is reviewing the previous BJP government’s decision on implementing the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system for tribal students in residential schools and is considering restoring at least partially the old system of awarding contracts to provide stationery and personal use items to students.
Officials said the tribal development department has set up a committee to study DBT’s effectiveness and recommend if the old system should be brought back. The committee has been asked to submit its report by the end of this month, an official said.
The DBT system was introduced in 2018 to transfer cash into students’ bank accounts after observing that students were not getting items such as stationery, uniform, books and umbrella among others on time. Complaints about the purchases and legal cases led to delays in providing these items to the students, the official added.
Questions were also raised about the quality of the items. “So DBT was introduced and students were being given advance for purchasing these items,” the official said.
However, there were protests against the DBT system too and legislators also pointed out that the advance given was not being used for the purpose it was intended for. There was a demand to cancel the DBT system, the official added.
A committee was formed under Padmakar Valvi, former tribal minister, to study the effectiveness of the DBT system and see whether the old system of awarding contracts should be brought back or DBT should be continued.
“The committee has been asked to visit some residential schools in Nandurbar, Gadchiroli, Palghar and other tribal areas and also interact with the students and their parents. So, while all old contract systems may not be brought back for all the items, it may be for some items depending on the findings of the committee,” the official said.