In order to promote inter-caste marriages and social harmony in the state, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched a web portal on Tuesday. The web portal will help the couples to get the incentive within 60 days of the application. The Sumangal portal is developed by ST & SC Development, Minorities & Backward Classes Welfare Department. This year, the incentive has been raised from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh.

For the incentive, the marriage should take place between upper-caste Hindu and Hindu of scheduled castes. It should be duly registered under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and should be valid according to the law. Only those couples who are marrying for the first time will be eligible for the grant. However, if the bride is a widow or bride-groom is a widower, they will also be considered eligible. There will be an incentive for the purchase of lands/essential commodities for household or for starting a new business.

After the above criteria are fulfilled, the couple will receive the amount in a joint account in any nationalised bank. They will be able to withdraw the incentive only after completion of three years of marriage.

In August 2017, Odisha government hiked the incentive from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh. For the uninitiated, 17 per cent of the state population are Dalits. Last year, 658 inter-caste marriages took place in Odisha.

Along with this, the Chief Minister also virtually launched Integrated Odisha State Scholarship Portal so that students of the state can avail the benefits and scholarships in a more transparent manner.