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Caring for the marginalised sections

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Nothing speaks better about the welfare commitment of a State than the way it takes care of the marginalised and vulnerable sections of society. In just three-and-a-half years, the Telangana government has ensured that no vulnerable section is left financially unaided, be it the elderly, differently-abled, HIV patients, beedi workers, weavers, toddy tappers, or single women. So far, the State had identified about 40 lakh people in these categories and is providing them with pensions and financial assistance under the Aasara Pension Scheme, a bouquet of financial benefits for various sections of society.

During its rule, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government has recorded a 35 per cent increase in disbursing pensions that provide beneficiaries a chance to lead a life of dignity.
The State government has set aside a massive Rs 5,000 crore in the annual budget for Aasara besides earmarking an additional Rs 500 crore for the relatively new single women and beedi workers’ pension schemes.

Aasara is essentially aimed at protecting the most vulnerable sections of society who have lost their means of livelihood with growing age, disabilities or social circumstances.  During the time of undivided Andhra Pradesh, the pension amount under Social Security Pensions provided was meagre and barely sufficient to cover the basic minimum requirements of the needy. An amount of Rs 200 per month was given to aged persons, widows, toddy tappers, weavers, HIV AIDs patients and Rs 500 per month to differently-abled.

After the bifurcation of the State, the government decided to enhance the monthly pension five-fold – from Rs 200 to Rs 1000 for old-age persons, widows, weavers, toddy tappers and AIDS patients and tripled the assistance for differently-abled persons from Rs 500 to Rs 1,500.
In the past, Rs 835.63 crore per year was spent by the previous government. Now the Telangana government is spending approximately Rs 4000 crore per year for payment of pensions under the Aasara Pensions Scheme. This is a 478 per cent increase over the past.
Immediate task on hand is that we should go to the rescue of our farmers. We should have an action plan to achieve this objective. As the first step in  this direction, the state has ensured timely and adequate supply of seed and fertilisers.

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