A unique education loan scheme with a subsidy of Rs. 25,000 to the weaker sections was introduced in Dharmapuri district from the last academic (2008-09) year.

It was the brainchild of P. Amutha, Collector, who initiated this scheme through the Socio Economic Development Programme (SEDP) of the State government to help the students of the weaker sections of the society to pursue higher studies after their school education.

The scheme was formulated with a view to bring a sea-change in the life of the weaker sections of the people who are living in the Naxal- infested villages in the district.

This programme is being implemented in 153 villages in five Naxal- infested Panchayat Unions. They are: Dharmapuri, Pennagaram, Karimangalam, Morappur and Pappireddipatti.

Subsidy component would be 20 per cent of the education loan subject to the maximum of Rs. 25,000 to the eligible candidates from the Naxal-infested villages identified by the district administration. Subsidy would be sanctioned for the candidates, whose parental income should be less than Rs. 50,000 per year. Candidates have to produce an income certificate from the Tahsildhar. Other important prerequisite is that the student should be a first generation graduate/diploma holder in the family, for this also a certificate from the respective Tahsildhar is a must.

During the last academic year (2008-09) district administration allocated a physical allocation of Rs. 50-lakh for extending education loan subsidy for 200 students. But the actual beneficiaries were 216, N. Swaminathan, Project Officer, DRDA told The Hindu.

159 students availed subsidy for Engineering, four for Agriculture, three for Medicine, two for Nursing, 21 for B.Sc., four for MBA, one for Teacher Training and six students for pursuing B.Ed. The balance Rs. 4.5-lakh has been carried forwarded to current academic year, it would help another 20 students.

Subsidy portion of the loan component would be directly credited to the bankers’ account upon receiving the loan applications from the concerned banks, Mr. Swaminathan added.

More than 200 applications were received for the current (2009-10) academic year and were sent for DRDA’s approval, said Ms. D. Bama, Manager, Lead District Bank, Dharmapuri.

Socio Economic Development Programme is being implemented through the society formed for this purpose. Project Officer, DRDA is the Member-Secretary.

Total outlay allocated for the Socio Economic Development programme for the last financial year was Rs. 7-crore. Out of this Rs. 50-lakh allocated for education subsidy. An equal amount has been allocated for SEDP for the current financial year.

The SEDP project component includes Rural housing, housing repair (Rs. 15,000 per year), field development training such as nursing, computer operation, tool kit for self employment, tailoring machine, Iron Box, Rs. 1.25 lakh economic assistance to SHGs for creation of marketing infrastructure, training to uniformed services, communication and soft skills training and sponsoring books and other course materials for the free coaching for the IAS, IPS aspirants, Mr. Swaminathan added.