Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 19:
Taking strong exception to the tragic suicide of Sunita Raita, a tribal B.Sc nursing student of R Udayagiri in Odisha’s Gajapati district who hanged herself on August 13 after being denied her stipend from the local Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) for 16 long months, the Union minister of Tribal Affairs Jual Oram has decided to seek a detailed report from the Odisha government very soon.
“Why the stipend was not given to Sunita in time? Where was the delay? What action the state government has taken against the erring officials and what steps has been taken so far against the officials whom the deceased has blamed for her suicide?” asked Union Tribal Affairs minister Jual Oram while interacting with media persons here on Monday.
Briefing newsmen here during his visit to Odisha on Monday, Oram came down heavily on the gross inaction of the state government that has failed to deliver the stipends and scholarships to the tribal students sanctioned by the Centre.
“Due to the dilly-dallying by the officials of the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), it has taken a long time for the tribal students to get their stipends and other dues”, he said.
Not only Sunita, the ministry is aware of the cases of suicide by two other girl students—Banita Naik and Kanakdei Bhatra— who had ended their lives after they failed to bear the expenses towards their study, Oram pointed out.
“I had reviewed the implementation of ongoing tribal welfare programmes in the state recently and found scores of irregularities. My ministry would seek a detailed report from the state government on the inordinate delay in releasing the stipend”, he informed.
“I would take necessary steps to ensure there is no recurrence of such unfortunate incidents in future”, the Union minister said, adding that he has asked the state government to expedite the release of pending stipends to the eligible students without further delay.