Punjab cabinet hikes Ashirwad scheme assistance from Rs 21,000 to Rs 51,000

This is the second hike in the scheme amount by the present government, which had earlier enhanced the assistance from Rs 15,000 to Rs 21,000 soon after it took over in 2017, while renaming the Shagun scheme as Ashirward scheme.

The Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday approved a hike in financial assistance under the Ashirwad scheme from Rs 21,000 to Rs 51,000 per beneficiary, with directions to clear all payment backlog under the scheme. The hike will come into effect from July 1, a government statement said after a virtual meeting of the Council of Ministers.

This is the second hike in the scheme amount by the present government, which had earlier enhanced the assistance from Rs 15,000 to Rs 21,000 soon after it took over in 2017, while renaming the Shagun scheme as Ashirward scheme. At that time, the state Cabinet had also decided to make payment direct into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries through the online banking management system, under the scheme implemented by the Social Justice, Empowerment and Minorities department.

The Chief Minister clarified that the scheme was also applicable to Muslims girls of 18 years or above age, along with Scheduled Caste, Christian, Backward Class/Caste, Economically Weaker Section families, and daughters of widows of any caste. Scheduled Caste widows/divorcees are also entitled to the benefit at the time of their re-marriage.

Muslim girls were in the list even in 2006, and if they have been inadvertently left out, they should be added, he directed the department.

The latest increase will benefit 60,000 beneficiaries, putting an additional burden of Rs 180 crore on the state exchequer, said the statement.

To avail the benefit, the annual income of the family from all sources should not exceed Rs 32,790. The parents/guardians of the girl should be domiciled in Punjab and the financial assistance under this scheme is limited to two girls only from one family.

The applicant is required to submit application for getting financial assistance in the prescribed proforma before the date of marriage or 30 days after the of the marriage of the girl.

Languages dept restructuring

In a bid to bring greater efficiency in the functioning of the Languages Department, the Cabinet also approved its restructuring plan for creation of 13 new posts in lieu of 61 non-essential surrendered posts thus reducing burden on the state exchequer.

The Cabinet authorised the Chief Minister to approve the notifications regarding amendment in service rules, to be prepared in consultation with the Personnel Department and Punjab Public Service Commission.

Regularising telecom towers

The government has decided to regularise all unauthorised telecom towers installed between December 5, 2013 and December 7, 2020.

The cabinet decided to extend the scope of provisions in Section 2.0 (I) (a) of the Telecom Guidelines issued on December 7, 2020 for this purpose.

‘Lift wheat promptly’

The CM directed all procurement agencies to ensure prompt lifting and timely payment to farmers through the newly introduced Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system.

The Chief Minister also ordered strict adherence to the Covid protocols amid the current surge. He urged all those farmers, arhtiyas, labourers, employees of procurements agencies and other stakeholders, above the age of 45, visiting the grain markets to get themselves vaccinated at the Covid vaccination camps in all 154 market committees across the state.

Principal Secretary, Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs, KAP Sinha said that there was no shortage of gunny bags now. As of now, 19.19 crore gunny bags have already been used for packaging of wheat, the meeting was informed. Further, around 30 lakh new bags, both HDPE/PP as well as jute, are being received every day by the agencies and are also being supplied directly in the grain markets across the state, said Sinha.

The Chief Minister congratulated Food Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu for the smooth operations, a government statement said.

The Cabinet was also informed that the Punjab Mandi Board had set up ‘farmers help desks’ in the grain markets across the state, where IT professionals along with board officials were assisting the farmers in their registration on the Anaaj Kharid portal to ensure timely payment directly into their bank accounts under the DBT scheme.

Tributes to former state CS

The Cabinet condoled the death of former state chief secretary Y S Ratra.

The Cabinet placed on its record its appreciation for Ratra’s service and contribution to Punjab, with the Chief Minister remembering him as a competent civil servant and a fine gentleman.

“We were commissioned in the Army together, while he went to Engineering, I went into the Infantry,” the CM added.

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