Speaker of the Gujarat Assembly Ramanlal Vora Monday held a day-long seminar of former and current MLAs from the Scheduled Caste (SC) community on various welfare schemes for the community and their effective implementation through budgetary allocations. Issues that were raised during the meeting included the Gujarat government not tabling the Sanjay Prasad inquiry report into the 2012 Thangadh police firing which resulted in three Dalit deaths.
This was for the first time that the Assembly Speaker organised a seminar of such a nature. Congress MLA Shailesh Parmar said that around 20 former and current MLAs from BJP and Congress participated in the seminar.
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Similar seminars would also be organised for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) in coming days.
Congress MLA from Vadgam constituency Manilal Vaghela said, “The seminar was called by the Speaker to give suggestions on implementation of various SC welfare schemes in Gujarat and for their effective implementation through budgetary allocations. Seminar of such nature is a good move since it has been organised well in advance before the government departments make preparations for the next year’s budget.”
“The suggestions made during the seminar will be forwarded to the state government for its consideration,” said Vaghela.
According to him, one of the important suggestions made during the seminar was to make uniform the financial limit for SCs to avail benefits of various welfare schemes of the state government.
“Recently, the government promulgated an ordinance to give reservation to economically weaker sections of the upper castes, while setting the annual income limit at Rs 6 lakh… But, for the SC community, the annual income limit varies for various schemes and it is much lower than Rs 6 lakh. So, I suggested to make it uniform and bring it to Rs 6 lakh per year,” Vaghela said.
BJP MLA R M Patel also made various suggestions for welfare of the SC community, including filling vacant posts in the Social Justice & Empowerment Department and making available writings and speeches of B R Ambedkar to general public by ensuring adequate printing of books on him.
“Among other issues, I had raised the issue of Sanjay Prasad report which the government is yet to table before the Assembly even after four years. Following that, it was said that a letter will be written to the Home Department of the Gujarat government with regard to the tabling of the report,” said Congress’s Parmar.
Three Dalit youths were killed in a police firing at Thangadh town of Surendranagar district in September 2012. Weapons used by police in the firing included AK-47 assault rifle. The Gujarat government had then constituted a one-member panel of the then principal secretary (Social Justice & Empowerment Department) Sanjay Prasad to inquire into the episode. Prasad had submitted his report to the government, but it was not made public by the government.