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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Aatmanirbhar scheme: Gujarat govt expresses inability to give details, says it will affect Covid fight

In response to persistent questions on the subject, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani intervened to say that the reason behind suspending the Question Hour for the entire monsoon session was to keep departments engaged in collecting data to respond to questions put during that period.

By: Express News Service | Gandhinagar | Updated: September 25, 2020 2:31:39 pm
Vijay Rupani, Covid lockdown, financial aid, temple priests, MLAs write to Rupani, Gujarat, Indian express newsThe letter urged the chief minister to announce a package for all temple priests across Gujarat. (File)

The Gujarat government on Thursday expressed inability to give out details on the number of beneficiaries and the amount spent under the Rs 14,022-crore Aatmanirbhar Gujarat Sahay Yojana, stating data collection on the pan-Gujarat scheme would affect the fight against Covid 19. The question was raised by by BJP MLA from Dascroi Babubhai Patel in the state legislative assembly.

In response to persistent questions on the subject, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani intervened to say that the reason behind suspending the Question Hour for the entire monsoon session was to keep departments engaged in collecting data to respond to questions put during that period.

State Industries minister Saurabh Patel, responding to a short notice question raised on details of the scheme, said, “This Atmanirbhar package does not just cover one or two departm-ents. It covers all departments… It is not possible to give information of all departments in short notice. If any member wants information of a specific date, then I can provide the same in 10-odd days.”

Congress MLA from Una, Punja Vansh, while asking a supplementary question, wanted to know the details of money spent of at least 3-4 departments under the scheme. “On one hand, you say the scheme is under implementation and on the other you say that the number of beneficiaries cannot be given out. This would mean that the scheme is not being implemented. If it is under implementation, you need to give the figures. Yesterday, the chief minister had given the figures for loans given to Sakhimandals,” Vansh persisted.

The Congress MLA also alleged that the relief given to power consumers under this scheme has not reached them as there were several complaints of inflated power bills served by the state discoms.

To this, Saurabh Patel said that data of one or two departments could not be given out. “The question was for the entire state. If I give data for two departments, then some other member can ask why data of only departments were given. It is better to tell the truth,” the minister said.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had announced the Aatmanirbhar Gujarat Sahay Yojana on June 5 this year to boost the state’s economy after the lockdown. The package offered tax relief, subsidies for industries and businesses and free foodgrains.

Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani then asked the same question to which the Speaker Rajendra Trivedi said the minister had already provided the answer. “This is a short-notice question and the details that you have sought cannot be provided by any minister. This is not like the regular Question Hour,” Trivedi said.

When Dhanani asked if the data could be provided in the House on Friday (last day of monsoon session), the Speaker posed the same question to the minister, who said it could not be done.

When Dhanani persisted with his questions, Rupani stood up and said, “The Question Hour was suspended (for the entire monsoon session) as the information sought by the members have to be sought from across the state. If the entire administration gets engaged in collecting data, then the fight against corona will get sidetracked. So as Saurabhbhai said, you seek the information and we will give it to in a few days.”

However, Dhanani stood up again and said, “The people of Gujarat want to know, if this is a package or a pouch.”

Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel then got up and said that the LOP was insulting the Rs 14,000-cr package for Gujarat. “…Budget is spent in phases. He (Dhanani) should be knowing this,” Patel said.

Dhanani stood up again and pointed out that while the Aatmanirbhar package announced by the state government is worth Rs 14,022 crore, the printed reply provided to the short notice question in the assembly totals to over Rs 24,000 crore. “When we ask where the money has been spent, the government does not want to reveal,” said Dhanani.

Minister Saurabh Patel then said, “All the members please calculate… is the package of Rs 14,000 crore or Rs 24,000 crore? I can’t see Rs 24,000 at any place. This is a Rs 14,022-crore scheme where Rs 2,300 crore is for property tax, Rs 3,038 crore is for industries, Rs 458 crore is for GIDC, Rs 1,000 crore for the housing sector, Rs 525 crore for self-employment, Rs 466 crore for workers’ welfare and Rs 5,044 crore for other reliefs. The Rs 11,980 crore mentioned under the subhead of agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries is a printing error. It is Rs 1,190 crore.”

Speaker Trivedi said, “Pareshbhai, it is a printing error. The issue ends here now…. You found the printing error and now you will be happy.”

EDot Short-notice questions

Before the five-day monsoon session began, the state government had declared that the Question Hour will not be held as a number of senior officers were deployed on Covid duty. It was decided to include short-notice questions on important matters. Only two short-notice questions are taken up daily if the minister concerned agrees to give a response.

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