With its fate hanging in balance, the Jitan Ram Manjhi government on Tuesday took a host of populist measures like reducing the mandatory attendance in schools to 55 per cent from 75 per cent for SC/ST students to avail benefits like uniform, bicycles and free text books.
At a cabinet meeting chaired by the Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, the state government reduced mandatory attendance for SC/ST students to 55 per cent and 60 per cent for general category students to make them eligible for benefits like uniform, bicycle, free text book, Principal Secretary (Cabinet Secretariat) B Pradhan told reporters.
The relaxation of attendance norms existing at 75 per cent had earlier met strong resistance from former finance minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav and other ministers to which Manjhi had publicly taken exception to on a number of occasions recently.
In a bonanza to contractors belonging to the SC/ST category, the state government relaxed norms under PWD Code 163 under which the contractors of Dalit community will get preference in award of contracts in case of their bids matching with counterparts from general category, he said.
The relaxed rules benefiting the contractors of SC/ST category will be applicable to tender bids up to a value of Rs 1 crore, Pradhan said, adding, earlier such contracts were awarded by lottery in case of tie of tender bids in terms of value.
The Manjhi government also sought to woo upper castes by approving a proposal for setting up a three-member expert committee to look into viability of providing reservation in jobs to economically weaker people from the upper castes, Pradhan said, adding that the committee will be asked to submit its report within three months to enable the state government to take a decision on implementation of its report.
In another significant decision, the state government approved a proposal to cover destitute persons and widows up to 45 years of age under the Food Security Act, he said, adding that the financial implication of this measure will be worked out in due course of time.
The Manjhi government also sought to woo the media by approving construction of Press Club buildings in 36 districts barring Patna and Sitamarhi, the Principal Secretary (Cabinet Secretariat) said, adding that the allotment of a Press Club building in the state capital was under consideration, while such a club already exists in Sitamarhi district.
The construction of each Press Club in districts will cost Rs 77.12 lakh each, he said.
The state government has approved construction of office-cum-residential buildings in 19 blocks at a cost of Rs 12.15 crore each, Pradhan said, adding that the administration consent has also been granted for construction of a degree college at Madhuban in East Champaran district.
A Home department proposal for creation of 20 posts for creation of a police station in Darihara Bhual police outpost under Dariyapur police station in Saran district and another 11 posts for creation of a police outpost in Dr Jagannath Mishra College in Muzaffarpur district was also cleared by the state government, he said.
Barring Manjhi, other ministers like Narendra Singh, Brishen Patel, Bhim Singh, Shahid Ali Khan, Nitish Mishra, Vinay Behari and Samrat
Chaudhary attended the cabinet meeting while Mahachandra Prasad Singh was absent for unspecified reasons.
The Chief Minister refused to speak to the waiting mediapersons after presiding over the cabinet meeting.