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Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times
Guwahati, June 15, 2013
The Arunachal Pradesh government has budgeted sanitary napkins to ensure pubescent girls do not miss classes during their periods. On Friday, the frontier state's Planning Board approved the distribution of free sanitary napkins to 82,419 girls of classes 6-12 studying in government schools. An amount of Rs. 2crore was set aside for the period pads out of Rs. 3,700 crore, the total outlay for the 2013-14 fiscal.

"Inability to afford or lack of access to sanitary napkins is often a barrier for girls. We have come up with this scheme for better hygiene and to ensure girls attend schools regularly," said Nabam Tuki, Arunachal Pradesh chief minister and chairman of the plan panel.

The government has also budgeted Rs. 5 crore for class 5 schoolgirls under a new scheme named Vidya. This entails an initial Rs. 5,000 in the account of each class 5 girl who can withdraw the money with interest after completing class 12.

Education department officials hoped Vidya would encourage girls not to drop out of high school. According to the HRD ministry's 2011 report, the school dropout rate among 6-14-year-olds is 10.95%, the highest in India.

The state government has further earmarked Rs. 7 crore for awarding cash and laptop to students under a talent-recognition scheme.