Andhra Pradesh which accounted for 50 percent of population belonging to economically backward sections has been a role model for it s social welfare initiatives since post-independence days.
The AP Government announced waiver of overdue loans of 44 lakh beneficiaries of the SC/BC/Minority and Women finance corporations to the tune of Rs.1690 crores.
Announcing the initiative in the state assembly the chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy said that the objective was to encourage entrepreneurship and generate employment among weaker sections.
In yet another concession, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy also announced the waiver of the loans taken by fishermen through their cooperative societies since 1982, on the lines of a similar benefit extended to SCs, STs, BCs, minorities and the disabled.
SC/ST Entrepreneur Program:
In March 2008 the AP government undertook a training program to empower the entrepreneurs under the SC and ST communities.
Salient features of the new policy aimed at encouraging more and more educated youth from these communities in self-employment schemes were
- Beneficiary reduced to just 51 percent
- Terms for term loan relaxed.
- Term loans of Rs.10 lakhs
- Waiver of margin money and other stipulations
- Loans at just 12 percent.
New Initiatives for fishermen
Andhra Pradesh accounted for 14 lakh fishermen of which 5.91 lakh were sea farers and the remaining 8.09 lakh were fresh water fishermen organised under 4631 fishermen cooperative societies .
The AP government has also initiated massive measures for the upliftment of the 20 lakh strong fishermen community in the state.
The chief minister Dr.Y.S.Rajasekahra Reddy announced in the AP assembly last week that in addition to the Rs. One lakh insurance coverage for the fishermen who die in harness, the AP Government will provide an ex-gratia of one lakh rupees more, with effect from April 1, 2008. The scheme is expected to benefit 4,02,742 fishermen in the state .
The state government also decided to provide an ex-gratia of Rs. One lakh to each of the missing fishermen which placed their families to lot of suffering.
The Chief Minister said there were nearly 214 missing fishermen cases pending in the state.
The AP Government has also waived the loans of 28,270 fishermen who had not been able to repay their loans amounting to Rs.40.70 crore. The government has also waived the Sales Tax dues of Rs.10.42 crore towards motorized and mechanized boats.
Salient features of the other initiatives for fishermen were as below:
- Fishlets worth Rs.4.52 crore supplied to fishermen since 2006 in reservoirs of the state.
- Rs.Five crore worth fishlets supplied at 50 percent discount to contain migration of fishermen.
- 6160 fishermen supplied Rs.1.54 crore worth fishing nets, country boats etc
- Provision of Rs.60 lakhs to sea fishermen to buy motors for their boats.
- SHG’s of fisher women provided Rs.210 lakhs to take up ancillary marketing activities.
- Sales Tax exemption on diesel and other oils - supply of 200 liters per boat.
Saviour of the backward communities, SC& ST
Under the dynamic leadership of Chief Minister Dr.Y.S.Rajasekahra Reddy the word Welfare had gained a new meaning. Committed for the latest theory of Inclusive Growth in the state is the prioritized objective of the Government.
“Welfare means providing two square meals a day for the starving, shelter to a homeless person, employment to those who are in penury, basic education for every child and medical facilities to the common man to lead a healthy life” says the Chief Minister.
AP was the only state government which spent huge amounts on social welfare programs like - scholarships for students, hostels, pensions for old aged and widows.
For the year 2008-09 the State Government has provided Rs.1293 crore as against Rs.826 crore (an increase of 57 percent) in the social welfare budget.
The dynamic leadership of Dr.Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy has successively rolled out initiatives for the enlistment of the backward class’s community who are socially and economically underdeveloped. Over years the congress government has hiked the allocations for the BC students education - hostels, scholarships and mess charges by an average of 92.34 percent to facilitate quality education in the rural schools. The social welfare budget for the current year stood at Rs.1553.83 crore.
“Capital investments in infrastructure alone are inadequate in social upliftment of the people. It is essential to upgrade their educational levels and also provide them food security” says the chief minister Dr.Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy.
Dr.Reddy had a close touch with the lives of the poor, lower income groups and the middle classes during his long PADAYATRA across the state in 2003 when he walked 1400 kms from Chevella in Ranga Reddy district to Srikakulam. He had interacted with thousands of people from cross section of society during the walk.
“The padayatra gave me a first hand knowledge the agonies of the poor and middle classes including farmers and rural women. I resolved to do something for relieving their pains of poverty and debts” says the Chief Minister.
The Andhra Pradesh Backward Classes Cooperative Finance Corporation has launched the Rajiv Abhyudaya Yojana scheme for upliftment of rural artisans. The national backward class’s finance development corporation has provided Rs.150.67 crore to benefit 2,51,132 persons of BC communities to elevate themselves into gain self-employment. In the year 2007-08 a sum of Rs.10 crore was allocated to assist 20,818 rural artisans. An action plan for social welfare measures for the BC’s has been specially laid down with an additional outlay of Rs.21 crore.
Since its elevation to power in 2004, the congress government had taken up an ambitious program promote the education of poor students from to backward classes. It has doubled the scholarship amount and also the mess charges of the students by allocating a sum of Rs.1553.83 crore.
The budget for the social sector has gone up to a record Rs.4057 crore in 2008 as against only Rs.860.54 crore during 2004.
Salient features of its welfare policy were:
- Social welfare got 57.16 percent of total budget.
- Minorities get 78 percent, Women and children get a 72 percent hike, BC’s get 37 percent, 11 percent for SC’s, Six percent in the annual budget for Fiscal of 2007-08.
- Among the sectors education got 57.16 percent of welfare budget (Rs.886.26 crore).
- Congress government has given a 62 percent hike in scholarship at Rs.833 crore in current year budget.
- Social welfare hostels have been upgraded from 120 integrated hostels to 240 multiple hostel complexes.
- Record 2,53,787 eligible students get hostel facility
- Benefits to 1,90,148 students in the SC action plan of 2006-7 at a cost of Rs.276.50 crore.
- Tribal budget hiked by six percent to Rs.684 crore in current year.
- Tribal students getting post matric scholarships in addition to 25 percent hike in mess charges.
- 313 new buildings for social welfare hostels.
- Six member SC/ST commission headed by Dr.Nagarjuna set up to recommend measures for upgrading social welfare programs in rural areas,
- Rs.204 crore for BC scholarships alone in the current year. 164 percent hike in BC scholarships since 2004.
- 41 percent hike in BC welfare budget and allocated Rs.533.95 crore by 2008 as against Rs.363.35 crore of TDP regimes.
- Students provided 1,24,674 pairs of bedding clothes ( bed sheet and carpet) costing Rs. 2.35 crore in 2006-07.
- Government spent Rs.3.22 crore in 2007-08 budget for providing 1,70,794 pairs of bedding for students in social welfare hostels.
- Record 2,65,011 students got hostel facility additionally
- The number of students in SW hostels stood at 4,59,658 as of December 2007.
- All accused in the scholarship scam have been punished by the special court set up for the purpose.
- A sum of Rs.341.25 crore released as scholarship for students as of this month.
- SC students get a 16.2 percent share in Government expenditure as against their population of 15 percent 123.39 lakhs in the state.
- Special development program and plan outlay for SC’s under 789 category.
- Rs.2369 crore spent on development works for SC in 2006-07 (13.2 percent) and Rs.1314 crore (13.16 percent) of the total expenditure budget in 2007-08.
- AP government has decided to spend 16.2 percent of the planned budget for SC development during the current year.
- SC’s to got 4,23,548 house plots under INDIRAMMA scheme costing Rs.123.28 crore in 2006-07.
- SC’s to get INDIRAMMA housing worth Rs.500 crore in 2007-08
- New buildings for SC hostels at a cost of Rs.643.98 crore.
- Mess charges of students increased by 25 percent in hostels.
- Post matric scholarships to 4,59,658 students at a cost of Rs.284 crore along with central funds of Rs.175 crore ( totaling Rs.459 crore).
- Eight new courts to try PCR and POA cases (cases of caste abuse and harassment).
- Toddy tapers provided Rs.3.79 crore for rehabilitation to provide alternative employment.
The AP BC Classes Cooperative Finance Corporation ltd has provided loans to eligible youth under the Rajiv Abhyudaya Yojana to the tune of Rs.100 crore. Under a NABARD scheme the 2,51,132 BC beneficiaries were given an assistance of Rs.150.67 crore so far and a sum of Rs.21 crore allocated for 2007-08
As part of its welfare initiatives the YS government has hiked the old age pension from a meager Rs.75 of TDP period to Rs.200 and has shouldered the responsibility for proper and timely disbursement of all pensions including that of physically handicapped to the village committees and SHG’s.
Unlike during the TDP regime wherein aged and widows were dragged to fill up public meetings with the assurance of pension payments, that too once in six months, the Congress government ensured that all pensions were deposited in the post office accounts of the beneficiary by the first of every month.
The chief minister Dr.Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy has very recently announced the government policy to provide a quantum jump in pensions to the aged and widows and physically challenged persons in the state.
Presently a sum of Rs. 861.85 crore was disbursed annually in the form of pensions to the 31, 22,847 rural poor in the state. “Another 25 lakh eligible rural poor including destitute, physically challenged youth and women will also be brought under the purview of pensions this year“ said the chief minister after a review of the pensions position in the state.
Unlike the TDP regime, the congress government has never tried to trample the privileges and rights of the urban and rural poor. Every eligible person both in rural and urban areas have been given ration cards to purchase cheaper rice, sugar, kerosene and other household needs. The state government has taken the unique step to provide a comprehensive and multi purpose ration cards to nearly new 50.58 lakh families as against only 12.20 lakh cards issued by the 9 year regime of TDP.
Presently there were nearly 95 lakh families having the white ration card which makes them eligible for several benefits like housing, house pattas, cheap rice and kerosene .Another 20 lakh families have pink ration cards meant for the upper middle classes. “We have issued multipurpose cards with Iris eye– identification so that the cards become basic ID for future “says the civil supplies minister Kasu Krishna Reddy.
These cards are expected to be the milestones data base for provision of all government benefits like houses, pensions etc to all sections of population.
The social welfare initiatives off the Y S Rajasekhara Reddy government have become landmark for their focus on public health and education. The health and education initiatives to make the villages as a resource centre for providing basic amenities including hygiene, sanitation, primary education and primary health has put AP as a role model in social welfare map of the country .
More unique are the new initiatives like Apatbandhu compensation for victims of personal accidents and compensation for the families of victims in Maoist blasts, police firings, terrorist blasts and other natural accidents like tsunami, floods, droughts, famine, lightening, landslides and boats drowning.
The Andhra Pradesh government has provided not only cash relief but also wherever needed a government job, house and cultivable land also in rural areas.
“Although the state government has made huge capital investments in irrigation and infrastructure activities, it has not been blind to the social welfare needs of the common man “ said the chief minister who insisted on special focus on the social welfare e measures at every possible official meetings.
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