Minister for Social Welfare, Bali Bhagat Wednesday said that Government will take innovative steps to bring more transparency and accountability in the functioning of Social Welfare Department enabling the poor beneficiaries to avail the benefits of various welfare schemes.
While replying to the Grants of Social Welfare Department in the Legislative Assembly, the Minister said that it is endeavour of the PDP-BJP Government to uplift the poor and help the destitute and physically challenged people adding that focused attention will be given to address their issues. The Government will provide suitable financial assistance to them for their dignified sustenance in the society, the Minister asserted.
Referring to the initiatives proposed for the next fiscal, the Minister said that presently there are 98,963 registered cases under NSAP scheme and 9133 cases under National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS) scheme pending with the Department. He said to clear these an amount of Rs. 74.27 crore is required which includes Rs. 24 crore as State share. He said, he has already made a request to the Union Minister for Rural Development for providing the Central share for clearing the liability and he has assured for the same.
The previous rate of pension was Rs. 200 and Rs. 500 for widows under Central and State schemes, and lump-sum per beneficiary Rs. 40,000 under NFBS scheme, said the Minister and added that the Government has already announced the enhancement of rates and now these categories will get Rs. 1000 per month.
In order to ensure complete transparency in the system, the Minister said that the Government will introduce e-governance (smart governance). He said Government has also started on Pilot basis in six districts the payment of pension through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) under Indira Gandhi Old Age Pension Scheme adding that the scheme will be rolled out in all the districts from the current fiscal. He said the online facility mechanism for filling up the applications for various schemes/programmes will also be started and status of the applications shall be updated after every 15 days on the departmental website to facilitate the beneficiaries. The department shall also prepare the citizen charter and load the same on the official website, said the Minister.
The Minister said Government has also initiated measures to simplify procedural formalities in various schemes of pension. The directions for holding tehsil level camps, wherein Age certificates shall be issued to the beneficiaries in coordination with the health department, authorizing the Chowkidars for issuing the death certificates on account of rural beneficiaries instead of Police station. These measures are aimed at to improve the service delivery and curbing the corrupt practices, said the Minister.
The Minister said under a major initiative to improve the sex ratio, Government has extended Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme initially in six districts of the State viz; Jammu, Kathua, Pulwama, Budgam and Anantnag on pilot basis. He said Jammu and Kashmir is the first among the States to launch a small deposit scheme ‘Sukanya Samridhi Yojna’ for the girl child under the BBBP scheme. The Sukanya Samridhi Account will fetch Rs. 6.50 lakh on attaining 21 years of age for which the State will contribute Rs. 1000/- per month in these six districts of the State with adverse sex ratio, said the Minister.
The Minister further informed that Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) has been restructured and brought under Mission Mode. Under this, 100 ICDS Centers are being converted into Crèches and the existing Anganwadi Centers (ACs) are being upgraded, he said and added to ensure more transparency in the functioning of ACs, the package of services available under the ICDS programme will be displayed in the premises of the Centers and the same will also be highlighted through leading news papers. Further, the Programme Officers will regularly review the functioning of the Centers and interact with the ground level functionaries to induce the motivation among them, the Minister maintained.
Bhagat said that in order to streamline the process of quality and timely procurement of nutrition and other articles, Government has proposed to introduce e-tendering system. A new Procurement Policy will also be formulated soon which will also have provisions of testing the supplies in the labs and schedule for calender, he added.
Giving account of the activities of the Department, Bhagat said presently Government provides benefit to over 18 lakh beneficiaries under different target groups in the shape of pension, scholarships, hostel facilities, reimbursement of examination fees, soft loans, supplementary nutrition, insurance, prosthetic Aids and rehabilitation etc.
The department also provides free boarding and lodging to 36 Bal Ashrams and Nari-Niketans across the State, besides takes care of over 29599 Anganwadi Centers with over 10 lakh beneficiaries including children and pregnant, lactating mothers and adolescent girls by providing them supplementary nutrition and allied services, Minister informed.
Under Rehabilitation of victims of militancy, over 10000 beneficiaries have been provided pension/scholarships and other assistances. The Women Development Corporation has also provided soft loan to 593 beneficiaries for setting up their livelihood units, besides imparted vocational trainings to 848 beneficiaries during the year 2014-15. Similarly, the SC/ST/BC Development Corporation has extended loaning facilities to 479 small scale units and also covered 650 units under Direct Benefit Scheme (DBS), the Minister added.
Earlier, the Minister moved a Demand for Grant of a sum of Rs. 68953.98 lakhs to defray the charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending March 31, 2016 for the departments under his charge.