The BJP-led Maharashtra government today extended 50 per cent fee waiver to all categories of students pursuing professional and higher education courses with a family income of less than Rs six lakh and more than 60 per cent marks at the time of admission.
The decision apparently comes in the backdrop of the campaign launched by the Maratha community seeking reservation in jobs and education.
Addressing a press meet after a state Cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the 'Rajrishi Shahu Maharaj Fee Pratipurti Yojana' was earlier implemented for SC/ST and OBC students.
"SC/ST students had 100 per cent fee waiver while OBC students had 50 per cent concession. It will now be extended to all students with family income limit of Rs six lakhs and who have secured more than 60 per cent marks at the time of admission. Those with income limit upto Rs 2.5 lakhs will have no condition," he said.
Fadnavis also reaffirmed his government's commitment to provide reservation to the Maratha community, whose thousands of members have hit streets across the state demanding quota in jobs and education besides highlighting other demands.
Significantly, the state unit of the BJP had last week said it was committed to meet the demand of the community without upsetting the OBC quota.
Fadnavis said 6,000 students in government colleges and 1.45 lakhs in private colleges will benefit with the decision.
The government also decided that the 'Punjabrao Deshmukh' scheme will be implemented to provide hostel fees to children of marginal farmers and registered labourers.
In big cities, Rs 30,000 will be given annually while in district-level towns it will be Rs 20,000.
The government has also decided to implement 'Pandit Deendayal Upadhay Swayam Yojana' for providing hostel and food facilities to tribal students, Fadnavis said.
In big cities, it would be Rs 6,000 per month, in 2-tier cities it would be Rs 5,000 and in 3-tier it would be Rs 4,000 per month.
In medical colleges, those students with income limit of Rs 2.5 lakhs to Rs six lakhs, the government will pay interest of the educational loan taken by them. About 35,000 students in government and three lakh in private colleges will benefit from the scheme, he said.
Terming these decisions as "historic", Fadnavis said, "The investment we are making in education sector will yield good results in times to come. We are making provision of Rs 1,000 crore this year and later budgetary provision will be done.