Patna, Aug 5: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said no one can take away the rights of those belonging to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes nor can reservation be abolished.
He said this while addressing a programme to launch a scheme for entrepreneurs belonging to the SC/ST category under the "Mukhya Mantri Anusuchit Jati Tatha Anusuchit Janjati Udyami Yojana" here.
"No one can take away the rights of the people belonging to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes nor can anyone dare to abolish reservation. We are ready for any sacrifice for protecting their rights and reservation if anyone tries to snatch them," Kumar said.
On a Supreme Court order "diluting" the provisions of the SC/ST Act, Kumar said there was no need to get perturbed over it as the Centre was bringing an amendment bill (to restore the original provisions of the Act) in this regard.
The bill, aimed at restoring the original provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, was approved by the Union cabinet on Wednesday, acceding to a key demand of Dalit groups ahead of the "Bharat Bandh" called by them on August 9.
Launching the scheme for entrepreneurs belonging to the SC/ST category, Kumar said under it, the beneficiary would get Rs 10 lakh for his venture -- Rs 5 lakh as grant in the form of a special incentive and Rs 5 lakh interest-free loan.
"I am happy that a new scheme is being launched within two months since it was conceptualised and I am thankful to the efforts of the Industries department in this regard...Of the 3,000 applications received, 500 people have been selected under the scheme. They need to be trained. Of them, 135 have already been trained while for another 150, the training is going to start," he added.
The entrepreneurs will have to repay the loan in 84 instalments and that too, when their firms start functioning, the JD(U) chief said.
Stating that the minimum qualification under the scheme was Intermediate, he further said, "I am happy to see the beneficiaries' qualifications. People with degrees like M.Sc., B.Tech, B.Sc., graduates and ITI degree holders have been selected under the scheme."
The 500 beneficiaries selected under the scheme had shown interest in varied fields like computer hard disk, IT, event management, tenthouse, ready-made garments, furniture etc., Kumar said, adding that they were selected from all the districts of the state.
"The entrepreneurs belonging to the SC/ST category will not only be benefitted by the scheme, but will also be able to provide employment opportunities to others. I am hopeful that these people will inspire the society with their good work," he said, while asking the Industries department to develop a mechanism to redress the grievances of entrepreneurs.
Earlier, Kumar gave away cheques for Rs 5 lakh each to five beneficiaries.
State Industries Minister Jai Kumar Singh, SC/ST Welfare Minister Ramesh Rishideo, other ministers Maheshwar Hazari, Santosh Kumar Nirala, Krishna Kumar Rishi, legislator Shyam Rajak, MLC Ashok Choudhary and Industries department Principal Secretary S Siddharth also spoke on the occasion.