UP govt gives nod of approval for the unemployment allowance
Opposition calls it a ‘populist’ move aimed at attracting votes for the 2014 Parliamentary elections
Virendra Nath Bhatt
With a dozen riders, the Uttar Pradesh cabinet on Friday approved the UP Unemployment Allowance Scheme 2012, which claims to benefit 9 lakh youth, including male and female. The scheme would entail an annual additional expenditure of Rs 1,113 crore on the state exchequer during the current financial year 2012-13.
The cabinet while giving its approval to the scheme has also added a number of riders to check the swelling number of the beneficiaries of the scheme. Soon after the Samajwadi Party (SP) released its election manifesto ahead of the March 2012 UP Assembly elections, the unemployed made a beeline at the employment exchange for getting themselves registered for availing the benefit of the scheme. An estimated 50 lakh jobless persons registered themselves in employment exchanges across the state.
As per the scheme, domicile of UP, registered in employment exchanges in age bracket of 30-40 years will be eligible for the unemployment allowance at the rate of Rs 1,000 month, which will be disbursed four times in a year. This allowance will be given till the beneficiary attains the age of 40 years. The minimum qualification of the beneficiary should be high school pass or any equivalent examination.
Only whose annual income does not exceed Rs 36,000 and the annual income of their parents or in laws is less than Rs 1.36 lakh and is jobless will be receiving the allowance. Initially, the government had announced to distribute unemployment allowance to jobless above 18 years of age but Friday's meeting decided to limit it to the age group of 30-40.
The unemployed, who have obtained registration in employment exchange till March 15, would be receiving the allowance from July 1 through local unemployment office and the amount would be credited in the bank account of the beneficiary. The government made it clear that the allowance would be given to only those who had state domicile and the beneficiaries would be subjected to legal action if the information furnished by them on affidavits is found to be incorrect.
According to an official spokesperson, the allowance would be discontinued if the beneficiaries find employment and they are required to inform the government about it. The spokesman also clarified that the beneficiary of the scheme residing in rural or urban areas could be summoned by the district authorities for miscellaneous work. The payment of allowance will be stopped to the defaulters or those failing to turn up as per the directives of the authorities.
For the disbursement of the allowance, online arrangements are being made in the employment offices for smooth conduct of the scheme and the district magistrates (DM) would supervise the scheme in the districts. The DMs could also conduct random checks on distribution of allowance and credentials of beneficiaries.
In pursuance of its election manifesto, the SP government led by Akhilesh Yadav, had given approval to the unemployment allowance scheme in its very first cabinet meeting on March 15. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday defended the move saying it was the promise made by the SP during Assembly elections. “If thousands of crores could be spent on myriad parks and memorials by the previous Bahujan Samaj Party regime then why can’t my government spend over a thousand crore on giving some relief to the unemployed youth of the state,” he argued. The Opposition parties, however, charged that the SP is pursuing a populist agenda for its narrow political ends particularly with an eye on 2014 Parliamentary elections rather than solving the problem of unemployment.
“What is the justification of giving allowance to the unemployed youth when over five lakh sanctioned posts in various government departments are lying vacant? This includes 2.18 lakh posts of police personals, 2.78 lakh posts of teachers in government run primary, upper primary and secondary schools, besides six thousand sanctioned posts of doctors and over a 1,000 posts of para medical staff including the nurses lying vacant? Instead of formulating a comprehensive policy for filling the vacancies of teachers, police personnel, doctors and para medical staff, with the aim of improving the overall governance and improving the standards of the government hospitals and schools, the government has settled for the populist option where it hopes to get more and quick political dividend,” said Hridya Naryan Dikshit, spokesman, BJP. “UP with an accumulated debt burden of close to Rs 2 lakh crore as on March 31, 2012, with annual debt servicing obligation of over Rs 16,000 crore, will be adding additional recurring burden of over Rs 1,000 crore in distributing the largesse to the unemployed youth,” he added.
Leader of opposition and senior Bahujan Samaj Party leader Swami Prasad Maurya alleged, “The SP is creating a vote bank for itself at the cost of the state exchequer.” He added, “The government should have expedited the process of recruitment in the police department which is awfully understaffed.”
Against the 191 posts of police personnel for per lakh persons, as many as 116 are vacant and only 75 person are working. Out of the total sanctioned 58,794 posts of head constables 44,177 posts are vacant and only 14,617 are working. Out of the total 2.50 lakh posts of constables as many as 1.62 lakh posts are vacant. The important arms of the police like the Special Task Force, anti-terrorist squad are crippled by the paucity of the staff. Situation is no better in the health department where against the total sanctioned 14.103 posts of doctors as many as 5,621 are vacant. Close to 7,000 posts of medical staff like pharmacists, lab technicians, x ray technicians, ANM and basic health workers are vacant.
Virendra Nath Bhatt is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.