Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: With above 5.5 lakh tribal girls housed in different state run hostels and stray cases of exploitation coming to the fore, Odisha government today issued fresh direction to ensure strict implementation of guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

The direction was issued by Chief Secretary A P Padhi while reviewing the activities of the Scheduled ST & SC Development, Minorities and Backward Classes Welfare Department, an official said. "Maintain strict vigil on implementation of the guidelines and SOPs for the safety of girls," Padhi said in the meeting.

Padhi said that detailed guidelines and SOP on safety and security of boarders, safe cooking and serving, food menu chart along with code of conduct and duties of the each staff have been circulated to all concerned.

So far 1883 matrons and 276 auxiliary nursing mothers have been appointed for girls hostels, he said. Besides, a special School and Hostel Monitoring Unit (SHMU) has been set up in the department on 24x7 operation with a dedicated telephone.

Padhi also directed the department to ensure strict enforcement of safety and security measures in residential schools and girls hostels. The departmental officers were asked to act vigilantly and proactively in the matter.

"The telephone is connected through hotline with girls hostels from where any boarder can directly communicate her difficulties to the state headquarter for immediate assistance," said department secretary Surendra Kumar.

Kumar said disbursement of scholarships to ST, SC and OBC students had been made timely and transparent through introduction of centralized disbursal system on DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) mode. A dedicated scholarship management unit has been instituted in the department for regular monitoring of the system, he said.

Kumar said that a total number of 22,13,868 students had been covered under scholarship programme in the academic year 2016-17 including 16,65,706 students under pre-matric programme and 5,48,162 under post-matric programme.

Out of the total students around 11,56,963 belonged to ST, 7,98,382 to SC and 2,58,523 to OBC, he said.

Stating that the scholarships are being disbursed directly to the beneficiaries bank accounts from the state treasury, Kumar said steps were being taken to modify and upgrade the "Prerana" portal and in its integration.

Students were advised to give their Aadhaar number in the online 'Prerana' portal while applying for the scholarships.

Two urban hostels have been set up in Bhubaneswar to facilitate higher education for ST and SC students. Presently around 700 students are residing in these hostels pursuing their higher studies.