In poll-bound Telangana, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi on Tuesday promised several sops, including loan waiver up to Rs. 1 lakh per farmer, as it did in 2014, and increased the amount of investment support to landholding farmers to Rs. 5,000 per acre per season from the existing Rs. 4,000.
Other major promises announced by the TRS president and caretaker Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao here after nearly four hours of deliberations at the party’ manifesto committee are: unemployment allowance of Rs. 3,016 per month, increase in social security pensions given to the aged persons, widows, physically challenged, weavers and beedi workers. He also promised reducing the age eligibility for old-age pensions to 57 from the present 65.
Asked whether the TRS was announcing the hike in sops as the Congress had already been talking about them, Mr. Rao said his party was not bothered about what the Congress and other parties promised for the elections. “We have decided to restrict the farm loan waiver only to Rs. 1 lakh as we have some basis for it. Let the Congress announce it as Rs. 5 lakh, it’s up to that party,” the TRS chief said, adding that there were about 45.5 lakh farmers who had borrowed money from banks for agricultural needs and the borrowing of nearly 42 lakh of them was less than Rs. 1 lakh.
Subsidy to SHGs
Promising more to the farming community, Mr. Rao said they would establish a market intervention fund with Rs. 2,000 crore to ensure support price for their produce and give subsidy to women self-help groups for setting up food processing units, at least one for every two Assembly constituencies. Such units would also ensure quality food products to consumers and help in tackling the problems of spurious/inferior products.
Making it clear that the promises being made now would be implemented only from the next financial year, the TRS president said the amount of pension to aged persons, widows, weavers and beedi workers would be increased to Rs. 2,016 from Rs. 1,000 per month being given now. The amount to physically challenged would be enhanced to Rs. 3,016 from the existing Rs. 1,500 per month.
The implementation of unemployment allowance would, however, take three-four months’ time in the next fiscal as the guidelines include reporting to the government when one gets employed. As per rough estimates, there are about 12 lakh unemployed youth in the State and the number is likely to be dynamic.
Housing for poor
For Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the TRS is planning special growth engines with funding up to Rs. 15,000 crore and Rs. 10,000 crore, respectively, for five-year period. On housing for the poor, the TRS chief said, apart from continuing the double-bedroom house scheme, they were planning financial assistance for those constructing houses on their own plots and for those going in for adding rooms to their existing dwellings with single room.