Widening the ambit of the state government’s flagship programme Kanyashree, chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday lifted the annual family income ceiling making all girls eligible for enrolment under the scheme.

“I am lifting the ceiling of family income as many girls have been left out of the scheme. This decision will lead to an additional expenditure of Rs 200 crore. But we don’t mind spending for the future of our younger generation. We believe that by spending Rs 200 crore, they will bring back two lakh crore rupees to the state,” said Miss Banerjee during the fifth Kanyashree Divas celebrations at Netaji Indoor Stadium on Tuesday.

Considered to have played a significant role in the TMC getting a second term in the 2016 Assembly election, the scheme was launched on 1 October, 2013 for girls with annual family income upto Rs 1.2 lakh. It is offered in three phases.

In the first phase or K1, girls students of classes VIII to XII receive an annual scholarship of Rs 1000. After completing 18 years and passing class-XII board examination, the girl would receive a onetime grant of Rs 25,000 under K2. The final phase or K3 is aimed at ensuring higher education for the girl child wherein Rs 2,000 is provided for students pursuing humanities and commerce and Rs 2,500 for students pursuing science.

Presently, 50 lakh girls are enrolled under the Kanyashree scheme. Sources in the state women and child development department said that around six lakh rupees has been spent in the last five years under the Kanyashree scheme.

Miss Banerjee further announced setting up of Kanyashree University to ensure higher education for girls. “I want the women and child development and social welfare department to work on setting up a Kanyashree Viswa Vidyalaya. All beneficiaries of the scheme should be granted assured admission here,” she said.

Terming this as her ‘dream project’, Miss Banerjee also asked the technical education and training department to impart special skill training to the girls to ensure employment opportunity. “Our Kanyashree girls are the pride of our state, our country and the world. After the scheme was launched, the drop-out rate of girl students has fallen by 11 per cent,” Miss Banerjee said.

She claimed that Bengal has the highest number of women MPs in the Lok Sabha, accounting for 35.29 per cent, while the national figure stands at 12.2 per cent. Miss Banerjee felicitated the top five districts namely Alipurduar, Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri, Nadia and Coochbehar in terms of highest enrolment and implementation of the Kanyashree scheme.