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Government Announces Pension for Elderly BPL Citizens

The Hindu


September 14, 2007

In the midst of talk of mid-term elections, the Government on Thursday took a slew of decisions helping the common man including one to expand the ambit of payment of old age pension to all BPL citizens above 65 years. 

The Union Cabinet, at its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved a proposal to modify the eligibility criteria under the National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS) so as to bring under its purview all those citizens who were 65 years old and below poverty line. 

Earlier, the scheme was applicable only to "destitutes" above the age of 65 years, Information and Broadcasting Minister, P R Dasmunsi, told reporters after the meeting. 
He said the scheme would be implemented in light of the announcement made by the Prime Minister in the Independence Day speech. 

The scheme, to be launched on the birth anniversary of Indira Gandhi on November 19, was estimated to cost Rs 4,300 crore in the current financial year. 

Replying to questions, Dasmunsi said there were about 1.57 crore people who would benefit from the decision, as per which they would get Rs 400 per month as pension. 
In another decision, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) extended the mid-day meal scheme to children in the upper primary stage, that is from Classes VI to VIII, in government and government-aided schools in 3,479 educationally backward blocks this year. 

The ambitious scheme, which was so far limited to the primary stage only, would be extended to all areas across the country in the next fiscal, Finance Minister, P Chidambaram, said adding, this fulfills a promise made in this year's budget. 
Chidambaram said mid-day meal scheme would also be extended to centres under the Education Guarantee Scheme and Alternative and Innovative Education. He said the rational for extension of the scheme to the upper primary stage of education was aimed at physical and mental development of children in the 11-14 age group. 

"Children in this age group represent a vital segment of our population - their health, nutritional status and educational attainments will determine the quality of our country in the years to come," he said. 

The scheme fixes the calorific value of the mid-day meal for the children, provides for at least 150 grams foodgrain per child per school-day and central assistance to schools for constructing kitchen-cum-store, among other things. 

It also provides for enhancing transport subsidy for 11 special category states from Rs 100 to Rs 125 per quintal. The Cabinet also approved a revised funding pattern for the flagship universalisation of elementary education programme 'Sarva Siksha Abhiyan', with the states increasing their contribution from 35 per cent of the expenditure in 2007-08 to 50 per cent in 2011-12, Dasmunsi said. 

He said the funding pattern for the north-eastern states will be 90 per cent Centre and 10 per cent states. The modified pattern has already been implemented from April this year. 

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