Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Thursday inaugurated the 11th Garib Kalyan Mela (GKM) in Porbandar and handed out self-employment kits worth over Rs 1.61 crore to 3,414 beneficiaries for 28 different trades.
An official release said that 15,467 beneficiaries have been provided aid worth Rs 11.12 crore in the preceding months of the ongoing financial year 2018-19. Overall, 18,881 beneficiaries from BPL (Below Poverty Line) families and differently-abled have been handed over self-employment kits and aid worth Rs 12.74 crore.
The mela was launched by Narendra Modi in 2009 when he was the Gujarat chief minister. The Indian Express had reported in August last year on how the Cottage Industries and Rural Development Department had halved the number of trades for which people get the kits from 58 to 28.
Rukshar Banwa, a Hindi literature graduate from Ranavav town of Porbandar district, was among one of the beneficiaries who were given a beauty parlour kit, which included a chair, brushes, containers and bowls etc.
“Being from a Muslim family, it is natural for me to know how to apply henna and I always wanted to be a beautician. But my parents were unable to buy me things to start a parlour of my own. Therefore, I applied before the state government for a beauty parlour kit one-and-a-half year ago. After getting no response for a long time, I even met then district collector of Porbandar Ashok Kalaria. He assured us of considering our case but since I wanted to earn something, I took up the job of a teacher in my town. But now that I have been finally given this kit. I shall open a beauty parlour at home besides continuing my job as a teacher,” said 23-year-old Banwa.
Daksha Rathod, an 18-year-old, from Mahira village in Ranavav taluka of Porbandar was given a dairying kit, which included a milk can, a milk skimmer, a large cooking pan and four crates. “She will do some business with this kit,” her father Hasmukh, a carpenter, said even as she just smiled when asked what she would do with the kit.
Mohammed Kadri, a BJP worker from Ranavav town, was also among the beneficiaries who got a kit. He was handed over an air compressor by social welfare department under Manav Garima Yojana. “I have been a committed BJP worker for the last 20 years and it is for the first time that I had applied for state assistance. I am happy that my application has been granted,” said the 49-year-old, who runs a bicycle repairing shop near bus stand in Ranavav town.
Giga Chavda, a mason from Mocha village of Porbandar taluka, struggled to find a vehicle to transport a handcart, four crates, a weighing scale and a saffron coloured umbrella that he was handed over in Porbandar.
“Bhikha Chavda, a member of our village panchayat, told me a few months ago to fill up form and today I have been given these things. My wife Geeta will sell vegetables in the village by using this handcart,” said the 45-year-old man.
A fisherman from Subhashnagar are, Dhanji Chamadiya, sat contently under a shamiana on Chowpatty Ground, the venue of the mela after collecting his kit of carpentry.
“Fishing season is not very good this year and this kit will help me get work of repairing fishing trawlers during off season,” said the fisherman, adding that he had applied for the kit three months ago. Chamadiya has five daughters and a son.
Another beneficiary, Aarif Kureshi, an auto-driver living in Chunapatty area of Porbandar was in a great hurry after collecting his motor garage kit, which included a jack, a few sickles, an oil dropper, among other things. “I have to go pick students from a school,” he said before hurriedly hurling parts of his kit on his rented auto-rickshaw and driving away.
Addressing the gathering, Rupani said that the central government had allotted five crore gas connections with an aim to help the poor save fuel. He said that the BJP government in the state had decided to give pressure cookers to all the 2.25 lakh Antyodaya families during the latest round of GKMs.
The CM said that by directly reaching out to poor and eliminating “middlemen” through GKMs, the state government was trying to realise Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of empowerment of the poorest.