Nod for formal launch of scheme on January 4

The State government is gearing up to launch the Kerala Cultural Activists Welfare Fund without setting the ground for a smooth takeoff.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is understood to have given the go ahead for the formal launch on January 4. Except for the promulgation of an ordinance on collecting a cess of Rs.3 from every cinema ticket, constitution of the director board, approval of a scheme for managing the fund, and sourcing of government funds for future requirements are all remaining entangled in bureaucratic wrangles.

Though the fund became functional with the appointment of G. Suresh Kumar as chairman and it received about 6,000 applications from indigent artistes seeking pension and other welfare benefits, the inordinate delay in completing official procedures has stalled the takeoff. After granting Rs.1 crore during the initial phase, the wait for a budgetary support of Rs.2 crore and Rs.51 lakh due from the government is still continuing.

Official sources told The Hindu that the draft scheme had proposed that the director board should have six members representing cinema and theatre and four members representing the realms of art, literature, and music. It has also been specified that the board should have four women members.

The secretaries to the departments of culture, law, and finance would be members and secretaries of various academies ex-officio members of the board. A detailed scheme was drawn up for forming sub-committees for various sectors and also for posting staff for managing the fund.

All those who are active in the fields of culture and aged between 18 and 60 years can subscribe to the fund. The beneficiaries will be eligible for a monthly pension on completing 60 years and those who have remitted the subscription for 10 years will get a family pension too. It was proposed to extend medical benefits and marriage and educational assistance for the family members nominated by the subscriber.

The delay in approving the scheme is feared to impede the smooth functioning of the fund.

It has been proposed to entrust local self-government institutions with the collection of cess. Introduction of e-ticketing in theatres is expected to give a fillip to the proposal, but it has come in for criticism from a section of exhibitors.

The announcement of the fund has evoked an overwhelming response from artistes across the State, but the dithering in clearing the course has dampened their spirit.

Unless the government took a firm decision in completing the procedures, it would be difficult to meaningfully manage the fund, sources said.

  • Wait for budgetary support continues

  • Overwhelming response from artistes