Government Engineering College at Bodinaickanur will start functioning this month. A total of 285 students were admitted to the college this year, said Minister for Finance O. Paneerselvam.

After distributing gold for ‘mangalsutra’ and marriage assistance to beneficiaries at a function held here on Saturday, he said that this engineering college would cater to the needs of rural students in southern districts. Students from Dindigul, Virudhunagar, Madurai and Theni districts were admitted to the college this academic year.

Meritorious but poor students who got admission to the college could pay Rs.9,000 as fees, which was much lower than the fees charged by private engineering colleges.

Most of the welfare schemes of the government were chalked out for the benefit of rural women and for their upliftment. Financial assistance, micro credit, marriage assistance, distribution of priceless goats and cows were to improve income of rural women. Improvement of income of individuals in rural areas will pave way for growth of economy in villages and ultimately the State and eventually the development of the nation. That’s why the State government was keen on enhancing income of individuals, the Minister said.

Second priority was given for education because it was the basis for all development activities. The equipment and gadgets for education that were once enjoyed by affluent students were given free of cost to poor students with an aim of bridging the divide between the rich and the poor in classrooms. Now, all affluent and poor students have computers and other gadgets in classrooms, thus ensuring equal status to all, he observed.

Collector K.S. Palanisamy said that free veterinary camps were arranged to protect the cattle from diseases.

Free gold scheme had weeded out a major hurdle in marrying off poor women, he said.

Later, the Minister distributed welfare aid worth Rs.6.31 crore, including gold worth Rs.1.61 crore, to 1,495 beneficiaries in the district.