In an effort to woo voters ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the Samajwadi Party government on Tuesday launched the “Samajwadi Pension Yojana” that will benefit about 40 lakh rural families living below poverty line.

It also upped the income limit for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) entitled for quota in government jobs.

The new pension scheme will replace the Rani Laxmibai Pension Yojana, which will be phased out gradually. This scheme was launched by the State government in 2013-14 and, at present, there are about 25 lakh beneficiaries.

Chief Secretary Javed Usmani said under the new measure, the beneficiaries would be entitled to a monthly pension of Rs. 500 in 2014-15. The pension amount may to be raised by Rs. 50 per year in the subsequent financial years if certain conditions are fulfilled. The maximum pension limit will be Rs. 750 per month.

Compulsory education for children in the age group of 6 to 14 years with at least 70 per cent attendance in school, making adult members in the family literate, immunisation and regular health check up of children are some of the conditions which have to be fulfilled for a beneficiary to get a pension hike of Rs. 50. The performance would be reviewed at the end of the next fiscal.

Families whose members are getting any other pension such as the Old Age Pension, owns a motorized vehicle, is an income tax payee, is a government employee, or is employed in a private firm will be ineligible for pension under the new scheme.

Of the total number of 40 lakh beneficiary families, 12 lakh will be SC/STs, 10 lakh will be minorities and 18 lakh general and other categories.

Claiming that the “Samajwadi Pension Yojana” is the biggest social security scheme to be launched by any State, the Chief Secretary said the selection of the families to be benefited would be done at the gram panchayat level.

In 2008, the Mayawati government had fixed the annual income limit for the OBCs availing reservation under the Uttar Pradesh Public Services (SC, ST and OBCs Reservation) Act, 1994 at Rs. 5 lakh. Those having an annual income of more than Rs. 5 lakh were bracketed as the “creamy layer” and were not entitled for quota benefits. The annual income limit had now been raised to Rs. 8 lakh.