Allocation of loans for SC/ST students hiked manifold: Govt has said it had increased allocation of loans for SC/ST scholarships manifold and was aiming to provide the benefit to 40 lakh pre-metric students from this category.

Speaking in the Lok Sabha on a discussion to the answer given by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on 11th March, his deputy Namo Narain Meena said the education loans to SC/ST students was Rs 273 crore in 2003-04 but stood at Rs 2,252 crore in 2009-10.

He said the percentage of SC/ST students covered under the loans from this category was 17.69 percent of their population.

For loans to SC/ST on agri-business, a special cell has been established in public sector banks, the Minister of State for Finance said on Thursday.

Opposition members, especially those from the BJP, countered the claims made by Meena, saying these provisions were already there and the main issue was their proper implementation. They claimed no cells had been established in banks for SC/ST.

Jyoti Dhurve (BJP), who had asked for the half-hour discussion on Mukherjee's reply, raised some important points during her presentation.

"The SC and ST have are not getting dues. What is the reason behind the poor development of these communities despite spending a lot of money by the government. I think that they have not got their due," she said.

Dhurve also talked about the unaffordable education finance which is hampering the growth of downtrodden in the country and pointed out that the rate of interest on such loans is as high 11 percent.

She demanded cheaper education loans for the SC and ST students.

Shailendra Kumar (SP) said the enumeration of SC/ST population has till now not been done properly, as a result of which the real number of those living below the poverty line is not known.

He said provisions should be made for giving reservations to SC/ST in private sector as well.

Arjun Meghwal (BJP) said the government should find out how many banks have not met their target of providing loans to SC/ST under its DRI scheme.

He insisted that government should provide for coaching classes for SC/ST students.

Paramjeet Kaur Gulshan (SAD) said the minister's answer was way off the mark and sought to know who are the beneficiaries of the government schemes for SC/ST.

She complained that the loan never reaches the intended beneficiaries at the ground level.