By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 30 Nov: It was rather a dull question hour on the second day of the Winter Session of the Uttarakhand Assembly, today, as compared to the first. However, the Opposition did try to corner Women Empowerment and Child Development and Food & Civil Supplies Minister Rekha Arya on several issues, but did not succeed much. Some ruling party members also posed difficult questions, but she cleverly managed to save herself from any possible embarrassment.
In addition, it was also the turn of Social Welfare and Transport Minister Chandan Ram Das to respond to the questions of the members, but the answers were given by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prem Chand Aggarwal on his behalf as Das had to participate in a programme at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) in Mussoorie, today.
In response to an important question asked by Preetam Singh Panwar, Food & Civil Supplies Minister Rekha Arya clarified that there is no plan to sell kerosene in the state either through the Public Distribution System (PDS) or in the open market as the population of the state had already been saturated with LPG and power supply and there is no need left for the supply of kerosene. She added that, with the exception of district Bageshwar, no kerosene has been sold or distributed in the state since July 2019 and, even in Bageshwar district, no kerosene has been sold or distributed since March 2020. She informed the House that the population of the state at present was estimated to be around 1.25 crores and the number of families to be around 30 lakhs. Against this strength, there are 29.97 lakh LPG connections. She added that over 4.97 lakh poor families had been given free LPG connections in the state under the Prime Minister Ujjawala Scheme while 11,779 poor families have been given LPG connections under the State Ujjawala Scheme. She added that, at present, there are 23.10 lakh ration card holders under various categories and, against this strength, the kerosene oil quota allocated to Uttarakhand is merely 12,000 litres. Therefore promotion of greater use of kerosene in the households in the state is not feasible.
In response to a question by Congress MLA Sumit Hridayesh about release of funds under the Nanda Devi Kanyadhan Yojana “Hamari Kanya Hamara Abhiman Yojana” to benefit the girls born in 2016-17 and year 2018, Rekha Arya informed the House that the process of benefiting the girls born in the year 2016-17 was covered under “Nanda Devi Kanyadhan Yojana” and now it is covered under a different department. The scheme at present is known as “Hamari Kanya Hamara Abhiman”. In response to a supplementary question, she conceded that there are some payments related to the year 2017-18 still pending but added that these would soon be made. Munna Singh Chauhan pointed out that, while it is true that the scheme is now operated not by Women Empowerment Department but by the Child Development Department as the nodal department, the details of pending payments ought to be made available by the Child Development Minister.
In response to a question regarding Aanganwadi Centres and supply of take home ration (THR) raised by Congress MLA Bhuwan Kapri, Arya added that, in some cases, take home ration supply for children registered under Aanganwadi scheme could have been disrupted for a while but the scheme is running smoothly at present across the state. The food quality being provided to children at Aanganwadi Centres as well as the quality of take home ration is monitored by a committee headed by the Chief Development Officer (CDO) in each district. No specific complaints have been received regarding supply of poor quality take home ration. In a handful of cases, where such a complaint was received, the ration was immediately replaced and the persons concerned reprimanded.
In response to another question, Minister Arya informed Members that the Uttarakhand Women’s Integrated Development Scheme and the Chief Minister’s Sustainable Livelihood Scheme are being run by the Women and Child Development Department for training and self-employment of women in backward and plains areas. In addition, 4235 women have benefited from the financial year 2019-20 till the present under the Uttarakhand Women’s Integrated Development Scheme and 2725 women have benefited under the Chief Minister’s Women Sustainable Livelihood Scheme, in which assistance amounting to Rs 316.14 lakh has been provided.
Responding to a question posed by Furqan Ahmed on behalf of the Minorities Welfare Minister (Chandan Ram Das), Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prem Aggarwal informed the House that an amount of Rs 10 crores has been released for construction of boundaries of cemeteries for Muslims and Christians for the year 2022-23, but it lapsed due to the Model Code of Conduct which was in force due to Panchayat and local elections. Now, the amount has again been approved and provided for and would be utilised for the construction of boundary walls in cemeteries.
In response to an important question by Preetam Singh Panwar, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prem Chand Aggarwal (on behalf of Transport Minister Chandan Ram Das) informed the House that the fare of Uttarakhand Transport Corporation buses has been increased in February 2020. However, in view of the increased cost of fuel, repairs and insurance, etc., it has been proposed to raise fares in private buses, autos and other commercial vehicles as well. In case of private buses, 22 percent increase, in Trucks, 27 percent, in Autos 20 percent, in Taxis and cabs 15 percent, in tempos 20 percent and in loaders 37 percent increase had been proposed recently.
In response to a question by Preetam Singh Panwar, Prem Aggarwal informed the House that that the pensioners under various social welfare schemes like widowhood, old age and disabled pension was distributed to the beneficiaries through direct benefit transfers (DBT) in their bank accounts or post office accounts or cooperative bank accounts nearest to the residence of the pensioners and hence they did not face much difficulty in getting the pensions.