State’s poor will have to pass this winter without ‘govt blankets’

The Samajwadi Party's poll promise of providing a set of two sarees to women and a blanket to everyone above 65 years in BPL families every year is unlikely to take off in the current fiscal.

It was expected that the SP government will, at least, distribute the blankets in the present winter season. But going by the progress in the scheme, the distribution may take another six months to begin.

An initial allocation of Rs 100 crore each was made for sarees and blankets, which is too little for the scheme. After an initial survey by the Panchayati Raj Department, which is the nodal department for the scheme, the requirement of funds has been placed at nearly Rs 1,400 crore. According to estimates, nearly 60 lakh blankets and over one crore sarees will have to be arranged. For blankets alone, Rs 400 crore will be required.

The state government has formed a Cabinet's sub-committee comprising Panchayati Raj Minister Balram Yadav, Culture Minister Aruna Kori, Textile Minister Shiv Kumar Beria and Dairy Development Minister Ram Murti Verma to work out the details of the scheme. The sub-committee has met four times but its report is not ready.

"This sub-committee will submit its report to the Cabinet, which will then take the necessary decisions to implement the scheme. The Cabinet note will be then sent to the department for formulating a government order," an official of the Panchayati Raj Department explained.

A committee of officials, which includes principal secretaries of Panchayati Raj, Finance, Industries and Rural Development, has been constituted to take all decisions till procurement of the blankets.

Sources stated that more than four months will be required for the procurement of blankets. Going by the volume of the supply, there has to be an open tender. Processing of the technical bid and the financial bid will require at least a month. For getting the supply, another three months will be required. Even if there are 10 different suppliers with a capacity of manufacturing 10,000 blankets each daily, they will need two months to make 60 lakh blankets, sources said.

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