Special Correspondent

CUDDALORE: It has been proposed to double the number of hostels for Muslim girl/women students in the State in the coming academic year, said Rev.Fr. Vincent Chinnadurai, Chairman of the State Minorities Welfare Commission.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday Fr. Chinnadurai said that based on the recommendations of the Justice Rajindar Sachar Committee these hostels were being set up in the Muslim dominated areas.

At present there were five hostels for Muslim women students and the number would be increased to 10 in the coming year. Fr. Chinnadurai further said that the Vanniyars and Dalits who had adopted Christianity had made representations to the Commission to include them in the Most Backward Classes and the Scheduled Caste lists respectively. The petitioners pleaded that the classification should be based on the caste/community and not on the religion. If it were so they would not be entitled to the benefits enjoyed their fellow members of the same community.

Fr. Chinnadurai said that the Commission would represent their views to Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and to the Justice Janardhanan Commission. The Chief Minister had already gone on record stating that based on the recommendations of the Commission a decision would be taken on the issue.

Welfare measures

The Chairman said that last year the State Government had sanctioned Rs.30 crore for the welfare of the minorities. Besides this, it had obtained unutilised funds from other States to the tune of Rs.6 crore, thus, raising the total to Rs.36 crore.

The funds were utilised for giving away educational scholarships, personal loans and micro-credits. The Chairman said that as per the 2001 Census there were 1,02,508 Muslims and 73,611 Christians in Cuddalore district.

Last year, a sum of Rs.1.63 crore was given away to 650 beneficiaries in the district which was Rs.60 lakh higher than what was sanctioned the previous year. Last year scholarships to the tune of Rs.19.56 lakh were given away to 940 students, and this year a sum of Rs.78.95 lakh was disbursed as scholarship to 2,985 students.

Moreover, the Chairman appreciated the communal harmony prevailing in the district.