Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: Stung by criticism from different quarters, the Rosaiah government hastily rescinded a decision to scrap with effect from the 2010-11 academic year, a popular scheme launched by Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy to help meritorious students hailing from rural areas.

It was only last month that the government drew heavy flak for slashing by half the intake of students into IIITs. On Tuesday, Congress MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy expressed dismay that many of the schemes initiated by his father were either being discontinued or diluted by the present government.

Soon, as the GO was available on the website, political parties and backward class organisations attacked the government for its attempts to deprive meritorious students belonging to the weaker sections of quality education.

Reacting almost immediately, Chief Minister K. Rosaiah asked Ministers M. Mukesh (Backward Classes Welfare), P. Subhash Chandra Bose (Social Welfare) and P. Balaraju (Tribal Welfare) and D. Sridhar Babu (Higher Education) to deliberate on the scheme on Thursday and come up with suggestions for its proper implementation. The GO (162) issued in the morning was amended later in the day deleting the all-important clause discontinuing the scheme for providing financial assistance to the poor.

Under the scheme, launched in 2008-09, about 8,000 bright students belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes were admitted in corporate colleges for the two-year Intermediate course at government cost to bring them abreast of others in competitive examinations such as IIT, JEE, AIEEE and EAMCET. The annual financial outgo for the scheme is around Rs. 30 crore.

The first batch of students admitted to corporate colleges completed in the inaugural year while the second batch has yet another year to go.

Earlier, the Telugu Desam, Praja Rajyam, BJP and Lok Satta lambasted the government for its decision to discontinue reimbursement of fees to the students of corporate institutions and demanded its withdrawal and restoration of the facility. In separate statements, leaders of the parties accused the government of going back on its promise of continuing welfare schemes.