The Telangana government on Thursday began implementation of its ambitious ‘Telangana Dalit Bandhu’ scheme with the release of Rs 7.60 crore to extend financial assistance to 76 Dalit families in Vasalamarri village of Yadadri Bhuvanagiri district.
A day after Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao visited his adopted village and interacted with Dalit families, the government issued an order for implementation of the scheme.
The Government Order (GO) issued by the Scheduled Castes development department permitted Telangana Scheduled Castes Co-Operative Development Corporation (TSCCDC) to release Rs 7.60 crore to the district collector for implementation of the programme for the benefit of around 76 Dalit households in Vasalamarri gram panchayat of Alair Assembly constituency.
The chief minister during his visit to the village on Wednesday announced that 76 SC families in the village will be benefited under the scheme. He said Rs 10 lakh will be deposited in the bank account of each beneficiary family from Thursday. He said the beneficiaries would be free to spend the money the way they want but advised them to use it to create a source of revenue.
During the interaction, he asked the people what would they do with Rs 10 lakh. Some told the CM that they would set up a dairy farm, some would buy tractors and some would do business.
Though the State Cabinet last week decided to implement the scheme on a pilot basis in Huzurabad Assembly constituency from August 16, the programme has now been rolled out from Alair constituency.
KCR’s earlier move had come under criticism from opposition parties and non-governmental organizations as by-elections are likely to be held in Huzurabad soon.
The seat fell vacant last month with the resignation of former minister Eatala Rajender. He also quit Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Rajender’s resignation from the TRS and the Assembly came after he was dropped from the Cabinet by KCR following allegations of land encroachment.
The opposition parties had termed the scheme a political stunt. Forum for Good Governance, a non-governmental organization urged the Election Commission of India to stop implementation of Dalit Bandhu in Huzurabad saying it was clearly aimed to lure the voters. Some activists have also moved the high court challenging the implementation of the pilot project in Huzurabad.
The government said that Dalit Bandhu scheme is aimed at providing financial assistance of Rs 10 lakh to each of the identified Dalit families and to promote entrepreneurship among them.
KCR said that with the financial assistance given under the scheme, the Dalit community should develop itself as a business community by selecting industries, employment, and business of their choice.
Under the first phase, 100 families from each of the 119 Assembly constituencies will be identified. The government has announced allocation of Rs 1,200 crore for the scheme.
The chief minister said his government was ready to spend even Rs 1 lakh crore for the scheme. He exuded confidence that the scheme will become a torch bearer for the Dalit community in the entire country.