Updated: March 17, 2021 12:56:02 pm
Out of the slew of beneficiary schemes the BJP government announced ahead of the Assam Assembly elections, the Orunudoi scheme, with women as its primary target group, is perhaps its most popular. In December 2020, when the scheme was launched, party leaders, including Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, described it as the “largest DBT scheme in the history of Assam which will empower women and serve the needy”.
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What is the scheme?
Through Orunodoi — announced in the 2020-21 Budget — a monthly assistance of Rs 830 is transferred to women members of marginalised families of Assam. On account of being a DBT, or a Direct Benefit Transfer scheme, the money is credited directly to the bank account of the woman head of a family because they are “primary caretakers of the household”. According to a Finance Department handout, the scheme gives “a choice to the poor and needy households on how they want to spend their money”.
Who is eligible?
The applicant, a woman, has to be a permanent resident of Assam, whose composite household income should be less than Rs 2 lakh per annum. Families with specially-abled members and divorced/widowed/separated /unmarried women are prioritised. Poorer families, those without National Food Security Act (NFSA) or ration cards, are also given priority. Families without any women members, MPs, MLAs (former and current), members of Panchayati Raj institutions and urban local bodies, government officials and employees of cooperative societies are excluded from the scheme. Families owning four-wheelers, mechanised boats, tractors or refrigerators, ACs and washing machines, or more than 15 bighas of agricultural land, are not eligible either.
Selections of candidates began in August 2020, overseen by the Finance Department and implemented by a District Level Monitoring Committed headed by the Deputy Commissioner in each district. To facilitate the process, four Orunudoi ‘Sahayaks’ were appointed in each district.
How many families have been covered so far?
When the scheme was launched, the government said that 18 lakh families had been identified to be eligible. After the Bodoland Territorial Council elections, the number is said to have risen to 22 lakh. Last month, at a public rally in Lakhimpur district, Sarma incentivised the scheme further and said that the amount would be increased from Rs 830 to Rs 3,000 per month.
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