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Delhi Nursery admissions: Jamia students to help EWS families

Even as the nursery admission process for the Economically Weaker Section and Disadvantaged (EWS/DG) category is yet to begin across the Capital, few students of Jamia Millia Islamia have decided to help such families in completing their online submission process.The Engineering Department of the university has joined hands with an NGO Mission Taleem to serve help the needy families.”We had approached the university to seek their help in helping such people who have no idea about the online admission process. The department has assured us of providing every possible help in filling as many forms as possible,” said Ekramul Haque, national convener of the NGO.”We will try to reach every nook and corner of Delhi, where poor and needy people reside, and fill their forms at their homes with the help of these students,” he added.The Delhi government had switched to a centralised online admission process for the EWS category in 2015, after receiving repeated complaints of discrimination from the parents. However, the parents of the EWS kids face many hardships in the online procedure as most of them do not have access to the internet. The official data also shows a considerable decline in the number of nursery admissions in the EWS/DG category in the last three sessions.

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Fee issue: Parents gherao school

Things turned ugly at St George’s School in Alaknanda on Wednesday, when hundreds of parents from the Economically Weaker Section (EWS), disadvantaged (DG) category, SC, ST, and OBC categories gathered outside the premises to protest against a recent notice issued by the school to them.According to the notice issued by school principal on December 18: “Schools are not bound to give free education to minority groups. For the last two years, we have been continuously informing you about this. Now, the school cannot extend the duration of your child’s free education in view of the rising expenditures.”Agitated parents gheraoed the school and demanded an immediate withdrawal of the notice. Officials at the Delhi government said the school, which is built on DDA land, will be served a notice on Thursday as it can’t issue such notice to existing students.

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CIDCO to release 8k affordable homes

This new year will bring a good news for people wanting to buy homes. Nearly 8,000 homes in Navi Mumbai’s Ghansoli, Taloja, and Dronagiri will be put for sale by the CIDCO in the coming months.The homes, which are in the affordable segment, will be mainly for the Economically Weaker sections of the society and the Lower Income Group. The per square foot prices for the homes will be anywhere between Rs 5,400-5,600 on carpet. A compact 1 BHK thus would cost up to Rs 18 lakh and above.Confirming the same, Bhushan Gagrani, Managing Director, CIDCO said, “The figures are correct, and it is true that we have a scheme of mass housing. The rate will be worked out in a couple of weeks and the rate should be between Rs 5,400-5,600 per square foot on carpet.”The rates haven’t been finalised yet, and the concerned department is working on them. They should be decided by the end of this year. While Gagrani specified that the lottery isn’t coming next month, a senior officer from CIDCO said that within two to three months, the process should start. Only last month, MHADA held a lottery for its nearly 800 houses in Mumbai, for which nearly 70,000 people had applied.The other factor to be taken into consideration is that under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY), Navi Mumbai already has got approvals for more than 15,000 homes. The 15,000 homes approved for Navi Mumbai will be constructed by the CIDCO at Taloja, Kalamboli, Kharghar and Dronagiri. The project comprises homes for the Economically Weaker Section and the Lower Income Group.For the houses, under PMAY, around 300 sq ft each, the central government allocates Rs 1.5 lakh, while the state’s share is Rs 1 lakh. This brings down the cost of the home further down by a total of Rs 2.5 lakh.Apart from CIDCO, under PMAY, nearly 3,000 more homes are going to come up in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, which are being constructed by the MHADA.APPROXIMATE COSTThe per square foot cost of the houses is pegged at around Rs 5,400-5,600 A compact 1 BHK would cost up to Rs 18 lakh and above However, final rates will be out after the concerned department has worked on them

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Mumbai: After successful November lottery, MHADA looks at May 2018 to sell over 1,000 homes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>MHADA has announced that it will be holding a fresh lottery for 1,000 affordable homes, the authority announced. The lottery that will take place in May 2018 will have 60% of homes for low-income groups.The authority had faced flak for having only eight homes targeted at the economically weaker sections of society.Last Friday, MHADA had held the lottery at BKC, and had also broadcast the lottery on social media. Soon after, MHADA’s Mumbai board head Subhash Lakhe told DNA that they will put 1,000 homes in the next lottery. “The next lottery will be held in May 2018 and will have 1000 and more homes. Of this 60 per cent and more homes will be only for the economically weaker section, lower income group and middle income group,” he said,Of these 1000 homes, the authority has almost finalised 700 homes and of this nearly 300 homes in various segments will be located in Goregaon. On Thursday DNA reported how the authority has set a target of 12,000 homes till 2020 and to achieve the target they have started development on various fronts, including carrying out slum redevelopment project on encroached MHADA land and redevelopment of mill land.

MHADA targets to build 12,000 affordable homes by 2020 in city

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) had set a target of 12,000 affordable homes by 2020 within Mumbai limits. In order to meet this target, the authority has planned to float a tender next week for approximately 5,000 homes to be built in a period of two years in Goregaon’s Pahadi area. The remaining homes will be built on the available mill land, and the other slum redevelopment projects being carried out by MHADA.Bhushan Desai, Resident Executive Engineer of MHADA’s Mumbai board, confirming the target of 12,000 homes said, “We have set the target that by 2020 we will have 12,000 affordable homes in Mumbai. These homes will be sold via lottery to the common man — the procedure that we have been following for all these years. The authority has identified land parcels, which include mill land and other places.”After his appointment as the vice president for MHADA, Milind Mahishkar has held several meetings emphasising the need for the authority to have a bank of affordable homes.Another senior officer of MHADA talking about the tenders to be floated for Goregaon said, “The 18-acre plot in Goregaon’s Pahadi area was stuck in litigation for years. We have decided to float a tender for construction of some 5,000 homes by next week. This will add to the total number of affordable homes in the city.”This year the lottery for 819 homes will be held on Friday. The number of homes and their prices already created a major controversy when the most expensive home in the lottery — one in Lower Parel — was priced at Rs 1.92 crore.The MHADA lottery also received flak from the common public because there were only eight homes in the Economically Weaker Section, which is the lowest so far.”After we get the affordable homes then we will have a bigger lottery in the coming years and that will solve the problem to a great extent,” added the official.NUMBER OF HOMES20184,46020193,47620204,144

Open defecation: Now, AMC plans ‘hawan’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bad habits die hard! Somewhat similar is true for some occupants of around 1,100 housing units constructed with toilets as part of the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) housing scheme at Jivan Jyot Apartment in Odhav which comes under the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s (AMC) East Zone.Sources said though the city has received the title of Open Defecation (ODF) Free city in 2016, it is one such place where open defecation is still prevalent.Though these units have individual toilets, some occupants are using open space, especially their terraces for defecation. Now, to keep them away from such a practice, AMC has planned to rope in Gayatri Parivar to perform a ‘Hawan’.It is on the lines of a practice to use wall tiles depicting gods to keep people from spitting tobacco. Earlier too, for behavioural change and motivate people to use toilets, former municipal commissioner D Thara had introduced a scheme ‘Úse and Get’ in which one was given a candy or Rs1 for using community toilet.”There are around 6,000 people staying in the colony of different communities. Inspite several awareness programmes, they are not using toilets. People learn what religion preaches quickly! So, Gayatri Parivar is going to organise Hawan at that place,” said a senior AMC official. “Either this Sunday or next Sunday, a Hawan will be organised with a holistic awareness campaign. People are using terrace to defecate inspite of several cleanliness awareness programmes. Hence, we have roped in Gayatri Parivar for this Hawan, asking people to use toilet,” added the official.Gaurang Jani, sociologist, said, “Our society believes religion solves everything. Such Hawan is only going to promote superstition. For behavioural change, concrete steps and communication besides follow up is required.” He added, “Hawan and religious gatherings can gather crowd but hardly change people’s mindset.”

Patels split over backing Hardik Patel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fissures between various organisations of the Patel community and PAAS leader Hardik Patel have surfaced after the former held a news conference distancing itself from Hardik’s statements.They accused the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader of pursuing ‘personal’ agenda at the cost of the community.It should be noted that Hardik had, a few days ago said that he would would support the Congress if they met the demands of reservation for the community.At a news conference held on Sunday under the banner of the Patidar Youth Brigade, Dilip Patel of the Sardar Patel Group (SPG) said the community had negotiated with the government for their demands and every demand other than that of reservation had been met.”This negotiation happened 10 days ago. The interlocutors included representatives of various organisations of the community, businessmen from the community etc. Hardik was also aware of it. The agenda was also discussed and the government clearly told us what they can and cannot do,” said Patel.He said the government agreed all four demands including compensation for those who were killed in the reservation agitation. “But it expressed its inability to give any more compensation under ‘technical grounds’ and so the community came together and donated Rs20 lakh to each of the victims,” said Patel. He said, after this negotiation, Hardik who was kept in the loop all through, went and called the interlocutors agents of the BJP.”It is now turning into a personal agitation of Hardik rather than a fight for the community,” said Patel.Sanjay Patel, trustee of the Vishwa Umiya Foundation, one of the organisations that have opposed Hardik’s stand, said none of the parties had so far agreed to give the community reservation under the OBC category. “That has been our demand from the onset. Hardik is settling for Economically Backward Caste category reservation which even the BJP government was willing to give,” said Patel.To a question on whether the BJP government had promised to give them reservation under the OBC category, he said the government was still exploring the possibility as it was caught in a ‘technical’ glitch.To a question on what the community thought of Varun Patel and Reshma Patel, two former PAAS leaders joining the BJP, different voices seemed to emerge.Sanjay Patel said it was only after the BJP agreed to the four demands of the Patel community that the two joined the party while Kamal Vataliya another leader said the community did not support the move of Varun and Reshma.

Govt must respond to online admission pleas

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court on Friday issued a notice to the Delhi government on two PILs which were filed challenging the online mode of admission to primary classes in private and government schools, claiming that there are discrepancies in the process.A bench of Acting Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar asked the government to file the details regarding the number of applications received for admission in private schools under EWS category and the functioning of the online process.Observing that there were some discrepancies in the online system, the bench said the online system served a statutory purpose.While the petition pertaining to government schools, NGO Justice For All, represented by advocate Kahagesh B Jha, challenged a notification of the government for admission in Sarvodaya Vidyalaya through the online module in Nursery, KG and Class I, the plea regarding private schools contested the online admission for the categories of Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Disadvantaged Groups (DG) to entry level classes.The plea said that the LG had issued a notification specifying the manner and time schedule for the admission of EWS/DG children which must not be different from the process followed for the general category kids.It claimed that the government’s notification was arbitrary and in violation of the provisions of the Right to Education (RTE) Act and the LG’s notification.The petitioner also claimed there were several glitches in the online system which should be removed as several seats were lying vacant but children could not get admission due to the online system.In the other petition, it was claimed the government’s March 3 and March 28 notifications were arbitrary and the strictly online process was a violation of law.

10,000 more homes under PMAY

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This week, the state’s committee for Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY) will discuss sanctioning of projects comprising 10,000 affordable dwellings across Maharashtra. In the last few days, 60 projects comprising a total of 1.82 lakh affordable homes have got the approval of the Centre under PMAY. Of this, 1.21 lakh homes are for the Economically Weaker Section and 1.05 lakh dwelling units are Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority’s (MHADA) share.Under the housing-for-all schemes the government of Maharashtra, till 2022, aims to construct 19 lakh affordable homes. The highest number of houses being constructed under PMAY is by MHADA’s Konkan Board — 11 projects comprising 84,570 homes. The Konkan division comprises Thane and its nearby districts, excluding Mumbai.Within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) is constructing 15,152 dwellings in two projects. Under PMAY, both Centre and the state give a grant of Rs 2.5 lakh to the homebuyer, thus reducing the total cost of the dwelling. The EWS homes are expected to be of 30 square metres.The other boards of MHADA that have got projects under the PMAY scheme are Pune Board which has 14 projects with a total of 6,274 units. Nashik Board has a total of four projects with 1,372 houses, Nagpur and Aurangabad Boards have six projects each with 5,975 and 5,660 homes respectively. Amravati Board is constructing 2,739 homes in its five projects.The non-MHADA entities include Urban Local Bodies of Solapur, Akola, Ahmednagar. They have four projects and are constructing 10,615 dwellings. Thane Municipal Corproation is constructing four projects and the total number of homes under this scheme is 3,000. Nagpur NIT has two projects and they are constructing a total of 1,268 homes.The total number of projects by MHADA is 46 while the remaining 14 belong to non-MHADA bodies. Three projects comprising 14,358 homes — which had earlier got sanctions — were later withdrawn and are no longer part of the affordable housing scheme.A senior official from MHADA said, “Nearly two lakh homes have been approved under PMAY; this will boost the affordable segment largely. We are going to discuss 10,000 more dwellings and all of them are from various parts of the state.Number game60Total number of projects: 1.82 lakhTotal Number of homes 1.21 lakhEconomically Weaker Section (EWS) 32,638Lower Income Group (LIG) 12841Middle Income Group (MIG) 166Higher Income Group (HIG)

Private hospitals fined for using ‘unfair means’ to make profit

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi government on Monday ordered a recovery of Rs 36 crore and Rs 10 crore, respectively, from two private hospitals for using “unfair means” to make profits.The move came after Delhi government was pulled up by the Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) in its audit released in August after it failed to recover a fine of over Rs 600 crore from five private hospitals, which had refused to treat the patients belonging to Economically Weaker Section (EWS).”The hospitals have been asked to pay the long-pending fine,” said a senior Delhi government official.The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led government in 2016 had slapped the fine on the five of these five hospitals — Max Super Specialty Hospital (Saket), Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Shanti Mukand Hospital, Dharamshila Cancer Hospital, and Pushpawati Singhania Research Institute. These hospitals were provided lands at concessional rates between 1960 and 1990 on the condition that they will treat the poor free of cost.A total of 43 private hospitals in Delhi were allotted land at concessional rates on the condition that they will keep 10 per cent of their in-patient department capacity and 25 per cent of out-patient department capacity to treat EWS patients free of cost.”These five hospitals had not abided by the conditions. The department had earlier in December 2015, sent notices to these hospitals seeking their explanation as to why they failed to treat the poor and why they should not be fined. But none of them gave satisfactory replies, so we initiated action against them,” said a senior health official.

Zero homes for EWS in upcoming MHADA lottery

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After raising the price of MHADA homes to a whopping Rs 1.61 crore, sources in MHADA have claimed that the number of houses for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the forthcoming lottery is going to be zero, at least for now.A document from MHADA officials, available with DNA, shows that the total number of houses in the forthcoming lottery has been fixed to 716 homes. Worried about receiving flak, sources claim that MHADA officials are now searching for at least half a dozen homes from the EWS category to save face. While the process is still on, senior officials claimed that the number was almost final.This comes as a surprise, considering MHADA’s main aim has been to provide affordable housing to EWS and Lower Income Group (LIG). Though LIG does find a mention in the list, the EWS homes are nowhere to be seen.As per the document, the number of Higher Income Group (HIG) homes are 168, of which all are in Powai. A total of 226 homes are for Middle Income Group (MIG), and they are located in Vikhroli and Kandivali. The remaining homes belong to LIG, and are located in Goregaon, Pratiksha Nagar, Unnat Nagar and Kandivali.While the advertisement for the lottery is expected to be out soon, the leak of documents has worried MHADA officials. A senior official said, “At present, we do not have any EWS houses in the lottery, our officers are struggling to find them. We have identified about six to seven EWS houses and are hoping that it works out. The current list at present doesn’t have any EWS homes in lottery.”…& ANALYSISThe officers in MHADA’s Mumbai board are busy finding EWS homes before the final advertisement for the 2017 lottery is brought out. Even if they find these homes, officials still claim that they will be less in number. To save their face, MHADA officials are now working hard so that they aren’t at the receiving end of flak.

89 ‘urbanised’ villages to get ‘development areas’ tag soon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The AAP government today said it would notify as ‘development areas’ the 89 villages which it recently declared as urban area within one week. The statement comes two days after Lt Governor Anil Baijal approved the Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) Land- Pooling Policy (LPP). Delhi’s Urban Development Minister Satyendar Jain said there are two stage of implementing Land-Pooling Policy: declaration of rural villages as ‘urbanised’ and then as ‘development areas’. Once the villages, declared “urbanised” on May 16, are notified as ‘development areas’, the DDA and the Delhi government will be able to carry out infrastructure projects there. “The Delhi government will notify as development areas the 89 villages that were declared as urban areas two days ago,” he said. Under the LPP, government agencies will develop infrastructure like roads, schools, hospitals, community centres, stadia on part of the pooled land and return a portion of the plot to the farmer who can later on execute housing projects with the help of private builders. Jain said around 20-25 lakh housing units will come up in these urbanised villages in the next 5-10 years and this will ensure properties are available at affordable rates. The main feature of the policy, according to Jain, is that housing projects could be developed by builders on the returned agricultural land of farmers. Earlier, building housing units on agricultural land of these 89 villages was not allowed as the LPP was not in place. According to the government, if 50 acre and above of land is pooled by the DDA, the land-owning agency will have to return 60 per cent of pooled land to farmers. In case the land pooled in 5 acres, the DDA will have to return 48 per cent of the land. As per DDA estimates, building 2.5 lakh houses, including 50,000 EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) units, will require 1,000 hectare of land. Jain said that as per rough estimates, there are 77,000 acres of land in urban villages across the city and out of this, around 40,000 acres will be developed as ‘development areas’. However, the actual quantum of ‘development areas’ land will only be known once the notification is issued under Section 12 of the DDA Act. With 89 villages being declared as urbanised, the number of such villages in the city has gone to around 95. Jain said that border villages will not come up under the Land-Pooling policy. The policy’s implementation assumes significance as the DDA’s Master Plan Delhi (MPD) 2021 proposes construction of 25 lakh housing units by 2021 for which 10,000 hectares of land will be required.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Delhi govt declares 89 villages as urban areas; to make land-

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a major development, the Delhi government has declared 89 villages here as urban areas which will help the authorities develop infrastructure projects in those localities. The Urban Development Department of the Delhi government issued a notification in this regard yesterday, after Lt Governor Anil Baijal approved the Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) Land-Pooling Policy (LPP). The policy was stuck for around two years. After the approval of the LPP for the 89 villages, the Delhi government won’t need to buy land from the DDA for developing facilities such as electrical sub-stations, stadiums, industrial areas, old-age homes, hostels, schools, etc. The LPP is aimed at getting individuals or a group of land-owners living in urban villages on Delhi’s periphery to pool their land and hand it over to the DDA. The DDA will develop public infrastructure like roads on part of the pooled land and return a substantial portion of the plot to the owner. The returned portion of the land will have its value increased due to the development of infrastructure nearby. Sultanpur Dabas, Bazidpur Takran, Mukhmelpur, Neb Sarai, Baprola, Bakkarwala, Goela Khurd, Neelwal, Salahpur Majra are among the villages which have been declared as urban areas by the AAP government. The policy’s implementation assumes significance as the DDA’s Master Plan Delhi (MPD) 2021 proposes construction of 25 lakh housing units by 2021 for which 10,000 hectares of land will be required. As per DDA estimates, 2.5 lakh houses, including 50,000 EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) units, will require 1,000 hectare of land. Providing relief to small farmers, self-penalty on DDA for delays, and flexibility to farmers to trade their land or tie up with developers for land-pooling are some of the important features of the policy. Welcoming the move, BJP MLA and Opposition Leader in the Delhi Assembly, Vijender Gupta said the “historical” move would accelerate the process of providing affordable housing to 20 lakh families. “It would fill up Delhi’s infrastructural deficit that has led to cropping up of unauthorised colonies. The notification comes due to direct cognisance taken by the Delhi L-G,” Gupta said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

MCD polls: North civic body woos AAP core vote banks

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>New Delhi Eyeing the upcoming civic polls, the BJP-ruled North Delhi Municipal Corporation attempts to woo Aam Aadmi Party’s core vote banks, as it doles out freebies to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and rickshaw pullers in the final 2017-18 budget.While the elections to the BJP-led trifurcated municipal corporations — South, North and East —are going to be held during next couple of months, the party is trying hard to win over these sections.Vijay P Pandey, leader of the House, North Corporation announced on Friday that residential plots up to 26 square meters will be exempted from property tax in the next financial year, as these properties belong largely to people from the EWS category.Besides, BJP has decided to extend the Prime Minister Bima Yojna to rickshaw pullers to provide them an insurance cover.”Insurance cover would be provided to those rickshaw pullers whose age is over 21 and are of sound health. They can register themselves with the corporation to avail the benefits,” said Pandey.Even as the Congress and the AAP have started attacking the BJP for poor condition of schools, sanitation and drainage, the corporation has increased the share of insurance for municipal school children from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh.”The scheme covers about 3.5 lakh students enrolled with its 588 schools across the city. The step is aimed at the holistic development of children and keeping them under a financial security cover,” said Pravesh Wahi, chairman of standing committee, North Corporation.Meanwhile, the cash-strapped corporation has decided to generatr revenue by proposing to redevelop its residential properties for commercial activity. It plans to rent these spaces to public-sector companies.”The corporation’s staff colonies situated at Azadpur, Model Town, Bunglow Road and vacant land at Idgah, among others are properties worth Rs 20,000 crore. We can commercially exploit these spaces by lending them to government agencies. We have already invited tenders from various PSUs,” added Wahi.It also aims at earning around Rs 120 crore to Rs 140 crore by setting up ATMs in 855 locations including its school buildings.Tough CompetitionMCD polls are likely to happen in April 2017, although the final date hasn’t been announced yet. In the previous polls the Bharatiya Janata Party had won majority seats against Congress. However this time the party has the Aam Aadmi Party as another competitor. Of the total 272 wards, 104 come under South Delhi Municipal Corporation, 104 under North Delhi Municipal Corporation and 64 under East Delhi Municipal Corporation.

Punjab Elections 2017: SAD manifesto breaks silence on Punjab’s drug menace

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Saddled with anti-incumbency accumulated over two consecutive terms, the Badal family-led Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Tuesday released its election manifesto that promises a bouquet of sops with a distinctly populist tinge. The party also took cognisance of the fact that Punjab has a drug problem on its hand, finally moving away from Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal’s past statements rejecting any such issue. Both the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have targeted the SAD on the subject, and have vowed to eradicate the drug menace from the state. Conceding that ​​drugs are a major problem in the state, SAD said it would step up its action against it by adding more drug de-addiction and rehabilitation centres to help victims. The SAD manifesto, however, promises something for everyone, including 20 lakh jobs to youth, tubewell connections for farmers, and subsidised food items to the economically weaker sections.The party also struck a parochial note in keeping the issue of the Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal centre stage, and vowing to protect Punjab waters. The manifesto, released by the Deputy Chief Minister, says the party will not allow construction of a canal that will enable sharing of waters with neighbouring Haryana. The party promised to provide 20 lakh jobs through government openings and development of industrial units in Ludhiana, Bhatinda and Amritsar. Unlike last time, when it had promised to give free laptops to school children, the SAD government this time has promised free two-wheelers for all senior secondary and graduate girl students from the economically weaker sections of society. It has also promised free sewing machines for every girl who completes Class 10. Asserting that infrastructure development is key, the Deputy Chief Minister said the party will connect all cities with four and six-lane expressways. He also promised planned sewerage system, cemented streets, and solar lights in all villages. Targeting the key farm sector —Punjab is popularly known as India’s bread basket for its prodigious grains output — the party also promised tubewell connections to all farmers as it did in 2012; free, regular power supply for 10 hours during daytime; and Rs 2 lakh interest-free agricultural loans. Unlike the Congress, which has promised a complete waiver of loans of all farmers within a month if elected, the Shiromani Akali Dal assured waiver of loans of only those farmers whose land holdings are less than 2.5 acres.A slew of promises was announced for the economically weaker sections and so-called blue card holders, including free gas connections, free pressure cooker and gas stoves, an increase in welfare pension from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 per month, homes for those without one, and 5 kg sugar at Rs 10 per kg and 2 kilos of ghee at Rs 25 per kg under its flagship ‘Atta-Daal’ scheme. The party also promised to increase the incentive under its ‘Shagun’ scheme from Rs 15,000 to Rs 51,000 for marriage of girls belonging to underprivileged families. The party has said it will build schools for the meritorious in every district and provide full assistance for oversees studies for the top 10 students of Class 12. Its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which released its own manifesto recently, has promised to provide free education till PhD for girls belonging to the economically weaker sections.

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