Jalandhar: With the state heading for Assembly elections, Punjab Government was in ‘fast mode’ to disburse grants and funds for various welfare schemes, particularly those meant for Scheduled Castes (SC), Backward Castes (BC) and the Economically Weaker Section of the society. Among a host of welfare schemes was Shagun scheme, which otherwise remained clouded with delayed payments to the beneficiaries during the past years five years. However, with assembly elections approaching, Punjab Government was going out of the way to timely release ‘Shagun grant’ of Rs 15,000 for girls getting married.
As per the data available with Daily Post, it came to the fore that in the election year, Punjab Government has already released an amount of Rs 1.19 crore to 799 beneficiaries in the first three months of the current fiscal year 2016-17 till May 31. This was the highest amount released by the state government in such a short span of time in all these years, sources said. The ground for clearing the pending cases of previous years was laid during the last fiscal year 2015-16 itself, when Shagun scheme grant was released to as many as 4119 beneficiaries, the highest in the last five years.
An amount to the tune of Rs 6.17 crore was released by the District Welfare Department, Jalandhar in the year 2015-16. Similarly, in the year 2011-12, when Punjab was gearing up for 2012 assembly elections, a similar trend was witnessed. In the election year of 2011-12, Shagun scheme grant was released to as many as 4,004 beneficiaries in the district, clearly spelling out the pre-election strategy of the Punjab government. Interestingly, keeping in mind the assembly election 2017, Punjab Government has also verified the entry of ‘late marriage cases’ from the year of 2009 to 2016.
“Following the state government’s nod, we have verified as many as 2,298 late marriage cases from Jalandhar for the Shagun scheme grant. Those girls, who got married but approached for Shagun scheme grant later were covered in this group”, said officiating District Welfare Officer Jasdev Singh. The release of Shagun scheme grant witnessed a delayed trend in the year 2012-13, when 3,021 beneficiaries received a total grant of Rs 4.53 crore. In the next fiscal year 2013-14, an amount to the tune of Rs 4.73 crore was released while in the year 2014-15, shagun grant of Rs 5.58 crore was released to as many as 3,725 beneficiaries in the district.
About the scheme:
The Shagun scheme was started by Punjab Government on April 1, 1997 with the motive of helping the underprivileged families at the time of their daughter’s marriage. To avail the benefit of the scheme, the annual income of the family should not be more than Rs 32,790. Financial assistance of Rs 15,000 is provided under Shagun scheme to SC, BC, the EWS section and widows of any casts with the minimum age of 18 years on the occasion of their marriage.
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