Govt working out welfare plans for Mahadalits

Times of India, 13th July 2009

PATNA: For over five million population of Mahadalits in Bihar, the state government is working out welfare plans which includes housing facility and other steps for their socio-economic and political empowerment.

Nitish Kumar government has chalked out strategy to woo the community and make big inroads in this socially neglected class and win them over. The government action plan is guided by the recommendations made by the State Mahadalit Commission which has already submitted two sets of interim reports.

"We will launch our scheme for providing land to each landless Mahadalit family from August 16 and construct houses for them," said SC/ST welfare minister Jeetan Ram Manjhi. He estimated that about 4,000 acres of land would be required for this purpose. “The survey to identify the landless families is going on,” he added.

Mahadalit panel member Chhotelal Rajvanshi said the survey work will be completed by July 15 to identify exact number of landless families. However, he said that it should be around 1.25 lakh and each family will be given three decimal of land. He said that where Mahadalit population will be 500 or more, a community hall will also be built.

In another move, the government has agreed to appoint about 10,000 Vikas Mitras from Mahadalit families, one in each of 8,463 village panchayats and in each ward in urban areas. These literate youth will be required to monitor the implementation of various schemes for the community. They will also educate the society about their rights and benefits.

"They will serve as multi-purpose agents and will be a link between the community and government," said Rajvanshi. The Mahadalit youths who will be appointed on contract basis will get Rs 2,000 monthly remuneration. The scheme has already been sent to the CM and will be implemented, most likely from August 16, after its clearance.

Under the definition of Mahadalit, four Dalit castes namely Paswan, Pasi, Dhobi and Chamar have been excluded, and the castes being given more attention include Mushar and Bhuiyan, Mehtar, Dom, Rajwar, Nat and Halalkhor who are treated as poorest among poor and most neglected. Their socio-economic and educational condition is deplorable despite a series of developmental measures taken by the Centre and the state government during the past several years.

Opposition parties, particularly the Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) and RJD, had ridiculed the state government for what they alleged dividing the Dalit society. However, the move helped the NDA in the recently held Lok Sabha election and in its bid to further strengthen its hold over the Mahadalit society, several other welfare measures, to uplift them socially, are in the pipeline.


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