Fulfilling another key pre-poll promise of the Captain Amarinder Singh led government, the Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday approved 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.
Payment till December 2020 have already been cleared under the scheme, the cabinet was informed.
The latest increase comes into effect from July 1, 2021, an official spokesperson 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 addition burden of 180 crore on the state exchequer, said the spokesperson. Social Welfare Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot congratulated the Chief Minister for the various measures taken for the empowerment of the vulnerable sections of the society.
To avail the benefit, the annual income of the family from all sources should not exceed Rs. 32790. 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.
APPROVES RESTRUCTURING OF LANGUAGES DEPARTMENT
In a bid to bring greater efficiency in the functioning of the Languages Department, the Punjab 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.
The restructuring proposal, prepared by the Languages department in line with the instructions of Finance Department, has been approved the Cabinet as per the recommendations of the Officer's Committee headed by the Chief Secretary.