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Mridusmita Deka|Mar 26, 2023
NEW DELHI: A parliament panel on Tuesday expressed doubt about the ministry of tribal affairs’ being able to achieve its target of establishing 740 Eklavya Model Residential School (EMRS) by the 2025-26 financial year. So far, the ministry has sanctioned 689 schools for tribal students but only 401 schools – or 58% – were functional as on February 28, 2023.
Construction of 247 schools is complete; 229 schools are under construction; and 213 schools are in the pre-construction stage. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment found that out of the budgetary estimates (BE) of Rs 2,000 crore earmarked for EMRS in 2022-23, the ministry spent only Rs 1,465.27 crore, or 73.2%, till January 31, 2023.
Once a part of an umbrella scheme, the EMRS became a full-fledged central sector scheme (CSS) in 2018-19 to provide quality education to the tribal children in every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons (as per census 2011).
The union budget 2018-19 had set a 2022 deadline for the construction of new Eklavya schools and tribal affairs minister Arjun Munda confirmed it in Parliament in July 2021. The tribal affairs ministry had told the parliamentary committee in December 2022 that it has not fixed any deadline but that the union cabinet has extended the deadline by 2025-26 to extend benefits to 3.5 lakh ST students across the country.
“While the target of establishing 740 EMRS has been set to be achieved by 2025-26, so far only 401 schools have been made functional as on February 28, 2023. This would mean making 339 EMRS functional in the remaining financial years. The Committee are little apprehensive about the achievement of the target as the Ministry of Tribal Affairs could only spend Rs 1,465.27 crore till January 31, out of the Budgetary Estimates of Rs 2,000 crore under EMRS in 2022-23,” Parliament panel said.
“The ministry has informed that around 2.5 years are required for one EMRS to complete hence the committee expects all remaining EMRS construction to start now if the target is to complete those by 2025-26,” it added.
The ministry of tribal affairs (MoTA) in its reply to the parliament panel has stated that capital cost of setting up of each Eklavya school complex, including hostels and staff quarters, has been increased from Rs 20 crore to Rs 37.80 crore in plain areas and from Rs 24 crore to Rs 48 crore in hilly areas, northeast and left-wing extremism-affected areas in 2021-22. The government also bears recurring cost up to Rs 1.09 lakh per year per student covering running of the school, uniform, books and stationery and food.
In the academic session 2022-23, a total of 1,13,275 students are enrolled in 401 functional EMRS, out of which only 277 are affiliated with Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and 43 are affiliated to state boards. There is no information about the affiliation of remaining 81 schools for tribal students. Each school has a capacity of 480 students, catering to students from Class 6 to 12.
In the union budget 2023-24, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman allocated Rs 5,943 crore to the EMRS scheme for the next financial year beginning from April 2023. This represents a massive 197% increase in allocation from the last budget which had budgeted Rs 2,000 crore for the scheme.
Budget Estimate (BE in Rs crore)
Revised Estimate (RE in Rs crore)
% difference between BE and RE
Actual Expenditure (in Rs crore)
1465.27 (as on January 31, 2023)
The EMRS scheme has also led to an increase in MoTA’s budget, from Rs 8,451.92 in 2022-23 to Rs 12,437.41 crore in 2023-24.
“The enhancement of the budget during 2023-24 is mainly due to increased allocation for the scheme of Eklavya Model Residential Schools which is around Rs 6,000. The enhancement is to facilitate construction of additional EMRS schools in the next two years. It may be noted that it has been targeted to establish 740 EMRSs by 2025-26,” MoTA said in its reply to the panel.
The parliament panel expects that the funds are “fully utilised for the purpose and are not subsequently revised for one or the other reason”.
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In her budget speech, FM Sitharaman announced that in the next three years, the centre will recruit 38,800 teachers and support staff for the 740 EMRS, serving 3.5 lakh tribal students. A total of 41% teaching posts in EMRS are vacant, according to a reply given to parliament by the ministry of tribal affairs (MoTA) in December 2022.
Clarifying the announcement of in the annual budget 2023-24 to recruit 38800 teachers and support staff, a senior MoTA official told the panel that the ministry has decided to post 26 teachers and 26 supporting staff at every Eklavya schools and approval has been taken from the finance ministry. “For the next three years, we will recruit 8,000 to 10,000 people every year,” ministry official said.
The pre-matric and post-matric scholarship schemes of MoTA are implemented by the state governments and UT administrations to support the education of the ST students.
Pre-matric and post-matric scholarship budget
BE (in Rs crore)
RE (in Rs crore)
AE Post Matric (in Rs crore)
AE Pre Matric (in Rs crore)
* As on January 31, 2023.
The committee members said that they “are surprised to find that the BEs under pre-matric and post-matric scholarship schemes have almost remained the same as Rs 1,970.77 crore have been estimated for 2023-24 whereas Rs 1,965 crore was estimated for 2022-23 under post-matric scholarship scheme.”
The committee also find that the MoTA has “not been able to fully spend” the budgetary allocation for 2022-23 under both the schemes as Rs 1920.52 crore have been spent out of the budgetary estimate of Rs 1,965 crore under post-matric scholarship scheme and Rs 314.98 crore could be spent out of Rs 419 crore under pre-matric scholarship scheme upto January 31, 2023.
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The committee said that it “strongly believe” that the current income eligibility of Rs 2.5 lakh fixed in 2013 for these scholarships needs to be “urgently reviewed and revised as it deprives many needy students from availing the scholarships benefits.” Even though a group of ministers is considering this matter, MoTA in its reply stated that the increase in income limit will increase the number of eligible beneficiaries under the scheme.
“Thus, an increase in income ceiling or 40% escalation in scholarship amount will result in a sizable increase in the total budget required for the implementation of these schemes. It is pertinent to mention here that the Department of Expenditure (DoE) had instructed to keep the total cost of the scheme for FY 2021-22 to FY 2025-26 under the 5.5 times of expenditure incurred in FY 2019-20. In view of this, the increase in income limit and rate of scholarship under these schemes could not be done,” MoTA said.
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