Seperate dept for minorities dev already set up: Deshmukh

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New Delhi, Oct 13 (UNI) Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said the state government has set up a seperate department for minorities development in February this year and placed it directly under the Chief Minister ensuring better coordination with various departments.

Addressing the National Integration Council (NIC) meet here today, Mr Deshmukh said as per the 2001 census, the minorities comprise 19.3 per cent of the State's total population of 96.87 million.

A budgetary provision of Rs 167.62 crore has been made for the current financial year 2008-09 for implementing various welfare schemes for the development of minorities in Maharashtra. It includes a provision of Rs 50 crore for additional share capital to the Maulana Azad Minorities Financial Development Corporation, which exists to disburse low interest loans for self-employment and education to the minorities.

He said the activities embraced by the Minority Development Department include the provision of free coaching to the weaker sections among the minorities to prepare and enable them to compete in the entrance examinations for professional courses like MBA, MBBS and engineering.

For this scheme, Rs 4.4 crores has been set aside during the current year and would be used to provide a maximum of Rs 20,000 per student for payment of coaching fees and supplemented with a stipend of Rs 1500 per student.

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