GUWAHATI: Stung by the ongoing statewide protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Act and facing elections early next year, the Assam government has been on a sop-announcing spree.
The BJP-led government on Thursday announced an education-related scheme for the children of employees of two closed Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited (HPCL) units, a health scheme for employees working under National Health Mission (NHM) and contractual teachers working under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and a lower bank interest scheme for the differently-abled state government employees.
Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told journalists that a one-time financial assistance of Rs.1 lakh each would be given to the children of some 700 regular employees of Nagaon Paper Mill and Cachar Paper Mill who are pursuing studies in a medical or engineering college or in a similar course, Rs.75,000 to those pursuing post-graduate studies or doing PhD research, Rs.50,000 to those pursuing graduation in colleges or diploma in polytechnics, Rs.25,000 to those studying in Classes XI and XII and Rs.10,000 to those studying from Nursery to Class X.
Last week, the children of Cachar Paper Mill employees were seen on the streets with begging bowls. They had expressed the difficulties they were facing in pursuing studies and appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to help their families.
Operations at both the HPCL units have remained suspended for the past three years and the employees have not received their salaries during the period. In May last year, the National Company Law Tribunal ordered liquidation of the two mills.
Sarma said the scheme for the children of the two paper mills, entailing around Rs.5 crore, would be implemented in the first week of February. Applications for the same have to be submitted online from January 14. The amount will be transferred to the bank accounts of beneficiaries who will be selected following a process of screening by the deputy commissioners (district magistrates) of the two districts where the mills are located, he said.
Under the second scheme, some 50,000 employees of NHM can claim medical reimbursement up to Rs.5 lakh annually from the government. The scheme will also cover their family members including parents.
“We will extend this health scheme also to 50,000 TET (contractual) teachers, including state pool teachers, working under SSA, in the next one to two months. The additional teachers or contractual teachers working in government high schools will also be covered under it,” Sarma said.
Under the third scheme, he said if a differently-abled state government employee avails of a bank loan to buy a car or two-wheeler, four per cent interest would be borne by the government.
Last month, Sonowal government had announced a scheme whereby Rs.50,000 each will be given as a one-time grant to 2,000 artistes and technicians of the state. The government also announced that autonomous councils would be created for some communities. Some other commitments made recently include making Assamese the state language “for all time to come”, making it a compulsory subject up to Class X in all schools etc.