WITH AN eye on the upcoming Assembly elections, the BJP government on Wednesday made a pitch for specific sections such as women, the unemployed and senior citizens. In June, tabling an election budget, state’s Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar had announced new initiatives for the empowerment of widows, abandoned and divorced women.
On Wednesday, the state’s women and child development department introduced a proposal to enhance the monthly financial assistance allowance for widowed women from poorer segments.
Under Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme, widows living below poverty line got a monthly pension of Rs 300. Ahead of the elections, the state government has enhanced its own contribution to the pension scheme. According to the Cabinet’s decisions, eligible women will now get a monthly pension of Rs 400. Those with one child will be entitled to Rs 500 while those with two will get Rs 600.
Besides, the Cabinet, in the same meeting, raised the monthly pension amount under Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojana from Rs 600 to Rs 1,000. The state government has set an additional Rs 1,648 crore towards the additional grant. While presenting the state’s budget in June, the government made provisions of Rs 2,500 crore for women-specific welfare schemes. The government also announced an increase in the pension allowance for senior citizens, living below poverty line from Rs 600 to Rs 1,000.
Rural body elections postponed
Despite a censure from the Supreme Court last month over the postponement of elections to rural local bodies — zilla parishads and panchayat samitis — the government has now deferred the election for appointment of heads to local bodies with an eye at the upcoming polls. According to information, the term of presidents of 24 out of the 35 zilla parishads and chairpersons of several panchayat samitis will expire in August-September.
On Wednesday, the state Cabinet approved a proposal to postpone these elections, arguing that conducting these around the time when the Assembly polls are round the corner will put overburden the local administration. With the BJP in charge of most of the rural bodies, sources said the move was aimed at avoiding any rebellion within ranks in rural belts.
Nirbhaya fund for forensic laboratories
The Cabinet also decided to dive into unused money from the Nirbhaya fund for the upgrade of forensic laboratories in Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, Nashik, Amravati, and Nagpur. It has said the infrastructure upgrade will help solving crimes against women more efficiently. A cost of Rs 27 crore has been sanctioned.
Land in Mumbai for a Balaji temple
The Cabinet also decided to allot a 648 sqm land in Mumbai’s Bandra for a 30-year lease to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, which manages the famous Lord Venkateshwara temple in Andhra Pradesh. According to a press statement issued by the CMO, the land has been allotted to the temple institution at a nominal rate of Rs 1 per sqm and is proposed to be put to use for erecting a small Tirupati Balaji temple, information centre, e-darshan counter, among other facilities.