Guwahati: One week ago, the children of employees of a defunct paper mill, the Cachar Paper Mill, took to the streets with begging bowls, seeking help from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
Stung by this bit of bad PR, Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday announced sops for employees of two paper mills in difficulty, and also some other sections such as children, teachers, health workers and the differently abled.
The giveaways include financial assistance to the college-going children of 700 employees of the mills once run by the Hindustan Paper Corporation. They stand to receive a one-time payout of Rs 1 lakh each if they are studying medicine or engineering or a similar course.
Likewise, Rs 75,000 each would be given to students pursuing post-graduate studies or PhD; Rs 50,000 to those pursuing graduate studies or polytechique diplomas; Rs 25,000 to those in Standard XI and XII; and Rs 10,000 to those in lower classes.
The payouts, entailing a tab of Rs 5 crore for the government, will happen in February. Applications for this aid are to be submitted online starting January 14. The beneficiaries will be screened by the deputy commissioners of the two districts where the mills are located. The money will then be transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.
Benevolence was showered upon some 50,000 employees too by way of a new health scheme under the National Health Mission. They can claim medical reimbursement of up to Rs 5 lakh annually. The scheme will cover members of their families too.
Sarma said the government would in the next two months extend the health scheme to 50,000 teachers contracted through TET (Teacher Eligibility Test), state pool teachers under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and additional teachers or contractual teachers working in government high schools.
These sops follow up the minister’s announcement last fortnight of a one-time grant of Rs 50,000 to some 2,000 artistes and technicians. The government has also announced creation of autonomous councils for certain communities and handover over land settlement deeds to some 40,000 indigenous people.
The third scheme Sarma announced Thursday was designed for differently-abled state government employees. The government will bear 4 per cent of their interest payment if they took a bank loan to buy a two-wheeler or a car.
The minister has been targeted by the movement against the Citizenship Amendment Act (ACT) allegedly for his attempt to defuse it by organizing peace-march across the state. Coming back at them, Sarma firmly ruled out the possibility of the state government holding talks with those leading the protest because they seemed to be more interested in uprooting the BJP in the state rather than the controversial law itself.
Buoyed by his massive public rally in Dhemaji a day earlier, Sarma told reporters, “We were prepared to hold talks with the protestors but now their leaders are not talking about the act. Instead, the AASU (the All-Assam Students Union) general secretary is talking more about bringing down the BJP by forming a political party.”...