The Tamil Nadu government has allocated Rs 18,777 crore for a variety of social welfare schemes in the state, including promises made during the AIADMK’s election campaign. The money will be spent in 2012-13 and major beneficiaries will be students, women and the elderly.
When the Jayalalithaa-led government took charge in May 2011, a Special Programme Implementation Department (SPID) was set up, for the first time in the state, to monitor and coordinate the implementation of various flagship programmes and schemes of the state government.
When the government was criticised for offering freebies as part of its election campaign, the chief minister said, “They are provided to the general public with the sole aim of helping them to stand on their own legs and become economically independent. Hence no one should trivialise it.”
For students, Rs 1,500 crore has been allocated for procuring and distributing 784,000 laptops in 2012-13. The free laptop scheme was part of the Tamil Nadu chief minister’s promise to distribute 680,000 laptops to students in government-aided higher secondary school and colleges. The total amount to be spent on purchase of laptops will be Rs 10,200 crore over the next five years. Last year, the state government spent Rs 912 crore on the purchase of 907,790 laptops.
Other schemes for students include Rs 330 crore to be spent on the free uniform scheme, Rs 324 crore on free and concessional student bus passes, Rs 188 crore on the free bicycle scheme and Rs 150 crore for free notebooks. The total spending on student welfare in 2012-13 will be about Rs 2,492 crore.
For the welfare of women, the chief minister has budgeted Rs 2,000 crore in 2012-13 for the purchase of mixies, grinders and table fans. The beneficiaries belong to families who hold family ration cards. According to the SPID’s estimate, 3.5 million women will benefit in 2012-13.
Last year, the government issued an order allocating a sum of Rs 1,250 crores for free distribution of 2.5 million packages of electric table fans, mixies and grinders in 2011-12. Under the criteria laid down by the SPID, women in 18.3 million families holding family cards who are currently eligible to draw rice under the Public Distribution System (PDS) are eligible for the fan-mixie-grinder package.
The other social schemes include the food scheme (with an allocation of Rs 4,900 crore in 2012-13), social pension scheme (Rs 3,820 crore), nutrition scheme (Rs 1,423 crore), Integrated Child Development Services (Rs 1,217 crore), marriage assistance scheme including four grams of gold (Rs 750 crore), Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy Maternity Benefit Scheme (Rs 720 crore), the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme (Rs 750 crore), free dhoti and saree distribution scheme (Rs 269 crore), free distribution of goats/sheep and milch cows scheme (Rs 244 crore) and free sanitary napkin distribution scheme (Rs 55 crore).