Free education among women-specific budget initiatives in Kashmir

Srinagar, May 30 (IANS) The Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday announced special budgetary initiatives for women that include school fee waiver up to Class 12, and reserved quota of industrial land for female entrepreneurs.

Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu said the women-specific initiatives were envisaged “in deference” to Mehbooba Mufti — the first woman chief minister of the state.

“I propose that the government waive off the fee of all girl students in the state government-run educational institutions up to the higher secondary level,” Drabu said as he presented his second budget in the state assembly here.

Jammu and Kashmir was without an elected government at the start of this fiscal and the 2015-16 budget was delayed. Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) formed the new government with the support of its estranged ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on April 4.

Drabu also proposed that “10 percent of industrial estates shall be reserved for women entrepreneurs” in the industrially backward state.

He said if an allotted piece of land reserved for women entrepreneurs in an industrial estate was transferred “it shall be (given) to an enterprise which is incorporated in the name of a woman and has women as the majority shareholders as directors”.

To encourage women’s start-ups in the state, the minister also proposed two entrepreneur development centres — one each in Srinagar and Jammu — to “help, guide, and train aspiring women entrepreneurs” in the state.

The finance minister also committed Rs.5 crore for “women only” city bus services which began in Srinagar recently.

The minister also announced that the government will set up four new women’s police stations in Pulwama, Kupwara, Kathua and Udhampur.

He also proposed constructing exclusive toilets for women in all state-run hospitals and health centres of Jammu and Kashmir. Currently, only major state-run hospitals have separate toilets for women.



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