From a GST waiver for farmers using micro-irrigation systems to a hike in allowances and longer maternity leaves for contractual employees; from monetary benefits for Asha (Accredited Social Health Activist) health-workers to clearing the second phase of the Rs 6,578-crore Ahmedabad Metro project and the promise of a grant to placate the restive Patels, the pre-poll largesse announced by the Gujarat government got larger Tuesday.
Continuing with the string of announcements since October 12 when the Election Commission, breaking from norm, delayed announcing dates for Gujarat assembly elections, the state government announced several allowances to employees engaged for an 11-month period by various state government offices and institutions registered under the Societies Act.
These employees got a Rs-250 daily transport allowance, 11 additional casual leaves, maximum 90 days maternity leave (for those employed for over a year and applicable only for two child-births) and a Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia to families in case of accidental or natural death of the employee, said Nitin Patel, Deputy Chief Minister in Gandhinagar. Letters for employment renewal of such workers — after expiry of the 11-month contract period — have to be issued within 15 days, Patel added.
Employees earning a fixed monthly pay up to Rs 20000 will get a daily allowance of Rs 100 for working between 6-12 hours and Rs 150 for working 12 hours or more.
The government also decided to provide a Rs 77.64-crore relief (for the current financial year) to farmers engaged in micro-irrigation under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana. This will be done by waiving the 18 per cent Goods and Service Tax (GST) applicable on micro-irrigation systems.
The government decided to increase annual income limits of families who can avail of welfare schemes under the Social Justice and Empowerment Department and the Tribal Development department. Now families earning Rs 1.2 lakh annually in rural areas — earlier income limit was Rs 47,000 — and Rs 1.5 lakh in urban areas (earlier limit was Rs 68,000) can avail of various schemes. This change in income limit is expected to benefit over 2.5 lakh more beneficiaries at a cost of Rs 56.63 crore.
Asha workers got a 50 per cent hike in incentives — over 40,000 of them will be paid revised wages with retrospective effect from April 1, 2017. The workers will get two saris/dress free of cost every year.
The government approved Phase-II of the Ahmedabad Metro rail project which will link both GIFT City and the state captial Gandhinagar with Ahmedabad. This 34.5-km-long stretch will extend the North-South corridor of Phase-I from Motera to Mahatma Mandir. This approval comes when the first 6 km of Phase-1 is awaiting commissioning.
In what is being seen as a signal to the restive Patidar community, the state government also granted in-principle approval to a demand by Unjha-based Umiya Mataji Sansthan for giving Rs 8.75 crore to the organisation to develop tourist facilities in Unjha. It’s the religious seat of Goddess Umiya, the reigning deity of Kadva Patidars in Gujarat.
On Tuesday, the trust that runs Umiya Mataji Sansthan put out ads in leading Gujarati newspapers thanking BJP president Amit Shah, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel for their decision to honour the lagni (feeling) and magani (demand) of the organisation.
Unjha falls in Mehsana, a BJP bastion which, since 2015, has been an epicentre of Patidar quota ferment. Protests were so strong that the BJP did not field a single candidate under its banner in the Unjha Nagarpalika elections in December 2015.
When contacted, Patel said: “(Asking for tourism facilities) was a year-old demand which has been approved by the government and, therefore, we have thanked the government.”