The Andhra Pradesh government on Wednesday announced annual cash grants for lawyers, handloom weavers and fishermen, and raised the salary of midday meal scheme workers by three fold.
Giving a huge relief to poverty-stricken handloom weavers in the state's 13 districts, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy announced annual assistance of Rs 24,000 to each family of handloom weavers. Named YSR Nesthanna Hastham, the scheme will come into effect on December 21.
"The money can be used for anything --- repairing existing looms or upgrading to power looms, purchase of raw material, etc," Information and Public Relations (I&PR Minister) P Venkataramiah said.
The AP Cabinet also decided to give an allowance of Rs 10,000 to each fisherman to compensate for the loss of livelihood during the fishing ban season from April 15 to June 14. Fishing is banned during these two months due to the rough seas, leaving fishermen without an income.
The government also decided to give a subsidy of Rs 9 per litre of diesel to all fishermen who own mechanised boats. The scheme will start on November 21, marked as the World Fisheries Day. The government has arranged for diesel pumps at jetties and harbours where fuel will be sold for fishing boats at Rs 9 lower than the market rate.
"The government will bear an expenditure of approximately Rs 100 crore per annum for this diesel subsidy,'' an official said.
Bringing cheers to more than 88,000 midday meal workers across the state, the government announced increase in their monthly honorarium from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000. About 88,290 workers will benefit from this; the government will bear an additional burden of Rs 212 crore.
The YSR Congress government has also decided to pay a monthly allowance of Rs 5,000 to lawyers.
Minister Venkataramiah said that during Jagan's pre-election padayatra (march across the state), many lawyers had appealed to him for government monetary assistance, saying that they are poorly paid. ``It is not a surprising or controversial move. The chief minister promised to assist them and he is keeping his promise,'' Venkataramiah said.
Why grant to lawyers attracts controversy
Granting Rs 60,000 per annum as government assistance to lawyers (Rs 5000 per month) with minimum three years practice is likely to create a controversy because it makes the government susceptible to demands from other professionals to give them cash doles.
The AP Cabinet also decided to utilise all vehicles allotted to beneficiaries under the BC, SC, ST, Kapu, minorities corporations for government purposes. An official said, ``From now, private vehicles engaged for government work would be replaced by vehicles allocated to beneficiaries. The beneficiaries will be allocated small or medium transport vehicles on payment of Rs 50,000. By hiring these beneficiaries for government work, the government is ensuring they earn at least Rs 20,000 per month. After five years, the beneficiary will own the vehicle."
To infuse money into the cash-strapped power distribution companies, the state government decided to issue bonds worth Rs 4,741 crore through the AP Power Finance Corporation. In a major decision that may put pressure on neighbouring Telangana, where State Road Transport Corporation employees are on strike, the AP government decided to replace nearly 3,677 buses that have already done 10 lakh km or nearing the replacement mark.