Hyderabad: Aasara pensions that benefit nine different categories of people in the State continued to be a major source of income for them despite of the lockdown and the present phase of slow recovery of the economy. The State government released Rs 4,155 crore to distribute Aasara pensions to about 38,50,562 beneficiaries as on Sunday. The amount helped to keep their purchasing power intact during lockdown.
The scheme which was applicable to only the senior citizens, widowed women and differently abled persons in the past was extended to weavers, toddy tappers and beedi workers apart from single women, HIV and filarial patients. The government is also considering to extend the scheme to dwarf persons also and reducing the eligibility for senior citizen pensions from 65 to 57 years.
In all, 12,14,857 old age, 4,93,213 disabled, 14,40,471 widow, 36,986 weavers, 62,529 toddy tappers, 32,584 HIV patients, 16,203 Filarial patients, 4,19,123 beedi workers and 1,34,596 single women are receiving the financial assistance under Aasara. While Nizamabad with 2,54,232 pensions tops the list out of 33 districts, Mulugu with 35,947 has the least number of beneficiaries. Nizamabad, Jagtial, Hyderabad, Warangal urban, Siddipet, Rangareddy, Khammam, Kamareddy were the other districts that had considerable number of these beneficiaries.
Purely a State’s initiative
The Aasara pension programme is purely a State government’s initiative with most of the of the expenditure was borne by it. “While the State government is spending Rs 977 crore per month towards Aasara pensions, the Centre’s contribution is only Rs 210 crore for the entire financial year,” Minister for Rural development and Panchayat Raj Errabelli Dayakar Rao said. Centre’s share was only 1.8 per cent of the total expenditure, while the remaining 98.2 per cent amounting to Rs 11,725 crore were allocated by the State for 2020-21.
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