Staff Reporter

VISAKHAPATNAM: In an apparent bid to target youth just before the elections, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy on Sunday announced the decision to earmark at least Rs.100 crores in the vote-on-account budget in February for reimbursement of fees of economically backward class (EBC) students.

Addressing students from Andhra University and members of National Students’ Union of India at the airport during a transit halt here, he said the fees would be reimbursed even in professional colleges teaching engineering and medicine. The Government had already issued orders for full reimbursement of fees for backward classes this year.

Dr. Reddy, who was accorded a warm welcome on arrival in a special flight on his way to Srikakulam, said during this year, the Government had sanctioned Rs.30 crores for EBC students of which Rs.10 crores was being released for Kapus. He said the income limit for EBCs had been raised from Rs.12,000 to Rs.1 lakh to extend the facility to more.

Describing as a ‘role model initiative’, he said for the first time, EBC students need not pay the fee of Rs.36,000 annually for engineering and Rs.55,000 for medicine from next year. He said the incentive was already available for SC, ST, BC and minorities.

Praising Rajiv Udyogsri programme, he said they were training even those who could not complete 10th class. For the first time in the country, jobless youth were being trained and provided suitable jobs after making a budgetary allocation for Rs.436 crores. Job melas were being held regularly.

The Chief Minister said they were training students on soft skills by setting up Jawahar Knowledge Centres so as to provide them opportunities in business process outsourcing units.

He blamed the Telugu Desam for shutting down AP Public Service Commission when it was in power. Minister for Commercial Taxes Konathala Ramakrishna, District Collector Sanjeev Kumar, Commissioner of Police N. Sambasiva Rao, city MLAs S. Rangaraju, D. Srinivasa Rao, T. Gurmurthy Reddy and others were present.