Hyderabad, Dec 31: Lakhs of families including Muslims in Telangana are applying to avail the benefits of six guarantees of the new Congress government. Many Muslim men and women are seen standing in long queues in Hyderabad, other cities, towns and villages to submit their applications.
The government officials have been receiving applications since December 28 under ‘Praja Palana’ (people’s governance), a government outreach programme. In the first three days, more than 40.57 lakh applications were received. According to Chief Secretary Santhi Kumar, over 18.29 lakh applications were received in a single day on December 30.
There was tremendous enthusiasm among people to submit the filled-in application forms in Muslim-majority areas in Hyderabad. The authorities made the form available in Urdu in such localities.
On the first day of the programme, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi visited a few centres to see the process and also guide the people. AIMIM MLAs and other leaders were seen distributing forms and helping people in filling-up the same. In the recently held Assembly elections AIMIM had contested as a friendly party of Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS).
Various organisations also came forward voluntarily to help people in submitting the application forms.
The government has prescribed a common application form for five of the six guarantees. People are applying for monthly financial assistance of Rs.2,500 each for women, cooking gas cylinder for Rs.500, free electricity up to 200 units, monthly pension of Rs.4,000 for various categories like senior citizens, widows, single women, financial assistance of Rs.15,000 per acre annually for farmers, Rs.12,000 each annually for agricultural labourers and financial assistance for building houses are among the major benefits promised under the guarantees.
Two days after taking charge on December 7, the Congress government launched free bus rides for women in Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) buses and also enhanced annual coverage under Rajiv Arogyasri, a health insurance scheme for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families to Rs.10 lakh from Rs.5 lakh.
While there is no restriction for free bus rides, the government has laid down the condition that only white ration card holders (BPL families) will be eligible for other freebies.
As many families do not have white ration cards, the government provided an opportunity to them to submit applications for the same during the ‘Praja Palana’ programme.
It is not clear if the government will provide a single or more benefits to a BPL family.
Implementation of six guarantees requires an estimated Rs.70,000 crore. This will be in addition to about Rs.50,000 crore for implementing present welfare schemes.
Presenting a white paper on state finances in the Assembly, the new government revealed that the state has no money even for day-to-day governance and that the state is staring at a debt crisis with a debt burden of over Rs.6.71 lakh crore.
The Congress blamed the previous BRS government for its financial indiscipline, misuse of public funds and corruption for the present situation. It, however, assured people that it remains committed to implementing six guarantees in 100 days.
Immediately after assuming office, the new government had started receiving applications from needy citizens under ‘Praja Vani’ programme at Praja Bhavan, the official residence of the chief minister. People can submit applications about any grievance or requirement to the government.
Thousands of people are standing in queues at Praja Bhavan every Tuesday and Friday to submit applications. Officials sitting there are receiving applications and issuing acknowledgement for a follow-up.