Dalits and poor coming to forefront thanks to welfare schemes of Badal govt

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Punjab Government under the leadership of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has been leading in providing benefits to poorest of poor in the state by launching several pro-poor and pro-Dalit schemes in the state.  Recent array of schemes which were announced during the budget of state government in March early this year bear testimony to the fact that the SAD-BJP government is committed to the cause of Dalits and other poor sections in the state.

The announcement of allocation of Rs 100 crore corpus as SC scholarship fund to be given to the universities and institutes on behalf of the SC students and doling out of interest-free study loan of upto Rs 5 lakh for the youth from economically weaker section were some of the new initiatives which will go a long way in benefiting the poor sections in all over the state. Akali Chief Parliamentary Secretary and SC leader Pawan Tinu, says this announcement meant that the Punjab government would now be able to disburse funds to the colleges from the corpus till the time centre releases its grants. After the funds reach colleges, this amount would be withdrawn. According to him, till now the state contribution for Centre’s Post Matric Scholarship Scheme stood at Rs 68 crore for six years even as the number of beneficiaries under the scheme had risen from 35,000 to 3.75 lakh. He mentions that the starting of interest-free loan scheme for poor students would also help aspiring students with limited means and resources in a major way to pursue their dreams.

Biggest every employment scheme

In fact it was during the Parkash Singh Badal led government that Punjab witnessed the launch of the biggest ever employment drive in history and more than 1.14 lakh government jobs are being offered to youth in the state. Besides, Punjab has become the  the first state to launch Atta Dal Scheme, making eldest women of the family as head and by far helping 1.42 crore beneficiaries.

Health schemes

A Health Insurance Card has also been issued to every poor, while Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Beema Yojana offering free treatment up to Rs 50,000 and Rs 5 lakh compensation for accidental death for incapacitation of head of family is also being given. Already more than  28.05 lakh people have benefitted from the initiative.

Apart from this, Rs 50,000 insurance cover for families of construction workers, regular medical examination of construction workers/families on construction sites toilets for labourers at construction sites and their colonies and is being ensured by the government. It has also been provisioned that the teams of medical experts would visit construction sites with Mobile Van fitted with X-ray machine and medical lab to diagnose diseases.

Special focus on girls

Focussing on the welfare of girls from the poor sections, Shagun scheme has been launched for the girls from SC/BC,Christians and economically weaker sections. The government has also introduced Bebe Nanaki Ladli Beti Kalyan Scheme to provide financial assistance to poor families to bring up girl child and to curb the menace of female foeticide. Free Punjabi Stenography training is provided to SC candidates. Punjab provides free power to farmers and spends approximately Rs 6,000 per year for it.

“We believe in ‘Sarbat da Bhala’ and have launched schemes for every section of Punjab. Various pro-poor welfare programmes – insurance cover, free medical treatment to blue card holders, 200 units of free power, Atta-Dal scheme for BPL card holders besides 5 marla plots for free housing are being implemented by Punjab Government, which are going to help Dalits and poor all over the state.

At present total Dalit population in Punjab 32%. Of the total cultivable land of 168910 acres, land reserved for Dalits about 56303 acres which is about 33%  of the total land.

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Free Power makes Poor Power-ful in Punjab

Punjab has always tried to provide subsidies to those who have been in the need of it. Be it farmers or the poor BPL residents of the state. The Cabinet in December of 2011 decided to give away 200 units of free electricity for domestic consumption every month to SC and BPL households. The Sukhbir Kalia committee did recommend the state government to do otherwise but the government gave importance to the needs of the poor people of the state.

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In providing free 200 units of power to the poor of the state the government in 2013 took a burden of Rs. 829.29 crore. Meanwhile by providing subsidy to farmers for using pumps and other machines the load on the government came to be Rs. 4,778.13 crores in 2013-14.

The State electricity board that provides these power units to the farmers and the SC and BPL families every month is paid out in full by the state government.

Punjab state electricity board has grown in large numbers since the SAD-BJP led government came to power. The connection of electricity in the state before the government led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal came up there were less than 6800000 connections and in the year 2014-15 the total connections in the state have been recorded at 8329976. Of these 6974504 are connections in general households. Considerable increase in the connections in poor households has been seen in the past few years. This has been due to the allocation of the free 2000 units of power per month.

The energy growth of the state has also seen a rise in the past few years. In the year 2014-15 according to state electricity board stats 46034.90 net energy units of power were generated.

Providing free 200 units of power to the poor is one of the many pro-poor schemes started by the Punjab government. A few of them include Atta-dal scheme for BPL card holders, regulation of unauthorised societies and 5 marla plots for housing scheme.

The announcement of providing 200 units of electricity was even made by the INC government in the past but the delivery was made sure by SAD and BJP led government. The INC government approved the scheme for just one year.

This benefit is being availed by nearly 18 Lakh families as of now in the state. The subsidy by the government in the state has played a key role in helping the SC and BPL families. Now that Punjab has been producing more units of energy to distribute providing 200 free units of powers works in everyone’s interest the major thing to take note being that the government has maintained its Pro poor stand and acted in their favour.