Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Friday announced a slew of sops to placate members of the state’s Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA) programme, ahead of the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections scheduled for later this year.
Naidu inaugurated a programme to distribute Rs 10,000 to over 93 lakh DWCRA members under the ‘Pasupu Kumkuma’ programme. The payment of Rs 10,000 is staggered – each member will get Rs 2,500 on February 2, Rs 3,500 on March 8, and Rs 4000 on April 5.
The amount is meant to pay off small loans that the women had taken.
The announcement comes after some of the self-help groups (SHGs) expressed their displeasure after the TDP government failed to waive off all their loans as was promised before the 2014 elections. The SHGs also said they were not receiving any additional benefits from the government.
Other sops announced include around 1.4 crore DWCRA members receiving free smartphones from the state government. The distribution of the smartphones is aimed at empowering the women to become entrepreneurs by marketing their produce using a mobile app that the government has developed. The Andhra government will do the global branding of DWCRA products and the mobile app will provide marketing opportunities, officials said.
Naidu also announced a 30 per cent hike in salaries of women staff working for Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP). Addressing lakhs of DWCRA members via video conferencing, he promised to build 27 lakh houses for deserving DWCRA beneficiaries over the next five years.
The women will also be covered under NTR Healthcare scheme, life insurance cover under Chandranna Bhima, and 10 days medical leave.
Naidu claimed that the TDP government had spent Rs 21,000 crores for welfare of DWCRA members and SHGs while Rs 1,124 crores was given as pension to 54.41 lakh elderly people.