India's Prime Minister Modi launches scheme to provide free LPG connections to poor

World Sunday 01/May/2016 12:58 PM
By: Times News Service
India's Prime Minister Modi launches scheme to provide free LPG connections to poor

Ballia: (Uttar Pradesh): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched a Rs80 billion scheme to provide 50 million free LPG connections to poor families as he attacked previous governments for just paying lip service to reducing poverty.
Calling himself ‘Shramik No.1’ (Worker No.1), he listed out initiatives taken by his government for the welfare of labourers. The launch coincided with May Day and Modi attacked previous governments for doing little for the poor. “Policies made by previous governments were not keeping in mind the welfare of poor but only ballot boxes,” he said.
Poverty, he said, can be eradicated only if poor are empowered, given resources and opportunities as well as education, jobs, houses, drinking water and electricity.
He questioned the policies pursued by the previous government for poverty eradication, saying poverty has only increased during past years.
“We are working to fight poverty,” he said, adding that under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, free LPG connections will be provided in name of women members of BPL households.
In the first year, 15 million such connections will be released and the target of 50 million will be completed in three years, he said, comparing it to the just 130 million LPG connections provided in 60 years of independence.
“In my first speech in Central Hall of Parliament after BJP government came to power (in 2014), I had said my government is dedicated to poor. Whatever this government does will be for the benefit of the poor and for the welfare of poor,” he said as he listed out various labour-friendly initiatives, including raising minimum pension to Rs1,000 and introduction of labour identification number (LIN).
Also, the maximum wage that entitles bonus to workers has been raised to Rs21,000 from Rs10,000 per month previously, while the bonus limit too has been doubled to Rs7,000.
Provident fund (PF) portability has been provided to help utilise the Rs27 billion of retirement benefits lying unused because of workers changing jobs or cities.
The prime minister said that his visit to Ballia to launch the Ujjwal Yojana had nothing to do with the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh due next year.
“We have not come here to sound the poll bugle. That is for the people to do,” he said.
Modi said he had visited Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh to announce such schemes where no elections were to be held.
“I went to Haryana to launch the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padao’ the male-female ratio there had dipped,” he said.
“I chose Ballia to launch the Ujjwala Yojana because there were very few people with gas connection here. Eight out of 100 families have gas connection here,” he said, adding that the eastern part of India —from eastern UP and Bihar to Assam, the northeast, West Bengal and Odisha, has to be developed to root out poverty from the country.
Modi said earlier the MPs used to get 25 gas connection coupons to be distributed in their constituencies each year and there were reports that some used to sell these coupons.
“But, now I want to provide gas connections to five crore families by 2019 when we would celebrate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi,” Modi said.
Maintaining that 10.1 million families have given up LPG subsidies, he said in all these years, only 130 million families across the country had gas connection and added that his government has given three crore connections in one year itself.
Modi said his government has made several changes in the labour laws and labour relations to provide social security to millions of workers across the country.
He said the minimum guaranteed pension now has risen to Rs1,000 per month, compared to a meagre Rs15 or Rs100 earlier.
Similarly, positive changes have been made in laws or rules relating to bonus and provident fund, he said.
Labour laws have been rationalised and a Labour Identity Number is now being given to the workers to ensure their social security, besides insurance, healthcare and pension to construction workers, the prime minister said.