Chandy says 25% still outside the welfare net

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Tuesday declared that the State has come under ‘total coverage’ of various pension schemes, but soon added that it only meant that all applications received during the drive for the purpose have been attended to.

“I personally believe this, in reality, covers only 75 per cent of the people who legitimately deserve coverage,” Mr. Chandy said while inaugurating the State-level Panchayat Day celebrations organised by the Department of Local Self-Government at Manarcadu, near here.

Drive by local bodies

The local bodies, through their present drive, had brought in 7 lakh new beneficiaries of the various pension schemes, the Chief Minister said and urged members of local bodies to take it up as their mission to bring the remaining 25 per cent into the social welfare net. “These sections remain outside the normal social spectrum — they have no knowledge about the scheme and they are not covered by the media. They are the most marginalised and the most deserving,” Mr. Chandy said.

Referring to the State government’s programme which aimed at providing all with at least three cents of land, Mr. Chandy said the government had invited applications for the purpose twice and their number now was 2.53 lakh. The government had taken up the distribution of land among one lakh of the selected beneficiaries and the rest were being processed.

“I used to get 1,000 to 5,000 applications from each district during the mass contact programmes,” he said.

Central, State schemes

The Chief Minister said that out of the 7 lakh beneficiaries of the pension schemes, only 30,000 were covered under State government schemes. “The rest is covered by Centrally sponsored schemes,” he said.

He wanted the local self-government institutions (LSGIs) to enlist the services of workers of all political parties and non-governmental organisations in identifying the most marginalised sections. Grama sabhas and panchayats should also be activated for the purpose, the Chief Minister said.

The Chief Minister told LSGI members that the government was considering an increase in their allowance and also the introduction of a pension scheme.

Minister for Panchayats M.K. Muneer said the State had not been able to realise the dream of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi but it was striving hard.

LSGIs were experiencing teething troubles, he said in reference to the delay in completing the process of devolution of powers to Panchayati Raj bodies.

Plan implementation

The UDF could bring in major changes in the Plan implementation process and as a result this year, the target achievement would be much higher than last year’s, he said. The government had taken a decision to overhaul the administrative structure for more effective Plan implementation, he said.

K.C. Joseph, Minister for Rural Development, said the government would clear outstanding arrears in the payment to MGNREGS workers. The arrears amounting to Rs.200 crore had accumulated following delay in getting funds from the Centre. Since the funds had been released, the government was optimistic of paying the arrears this month itself, he said.

Referring to the improvement in Plan implementation, Mr. Joseph said the Plan expenditure, which stood at 25 per cent at this time during 2012-13, had more than doubled to 53 per cent this year.

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