Sunday, April 6, 2008

Five commitments of PM to Varanasi and her weavers

Five commitments of PM to Varanasi and her weavers

Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi 25/3/2008 6:35:59 PM(IST)

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh interacted with many delegations from the city of Varanasi, including a delegation of weavers led by Dr. R.K. Mishra, MP. The Prime Minister mentioned that the following issues would be pursued by the Government soon for the benefit of the people of Varanasi and weavers of Varanasi. Decisions on these would be taken soon.

Public Transport for Varanasi: Varanasi is a major city and deserves top class public transport. Varanasi is included in the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). Under the JNNURM, the Central Government would be willing to fund a major public transport project for Varanasi. Adequate funds would be provided to enable Varanasi to have a modern transport system in keeping with its importance as a Heritage City. The State Government will be requested to forward a project to Government of India and a decision will be taken on this proposal favourably. The Government of India will provide all possible support for preparing the project.

Heritage Development of Varanasi: Varanasi is one of the few cities included in JNNURM, which have an ancient heritage value. The Ministry of Tourism also has taken up Varanasi under its Mega Projects Scheme for tourism development. Budget-2008 also has a provision for tax concessions to hotels in districts with heritage monuments. The State Government would be requested to form a Group of Experts to prepare a Heritage Development Plan for Varanasi which would be funded from the JNNURM and other sources.

Development of a Mega Cluster for Silk Weavers: Varanasi is one of the six locations chosen for infrastructure development under the Mega Cluster Scheme announced in Budget 2008. Under this, Rs. 70 crores will be provided to Varanasi to improve the infrastructural facilities for weavers through better storage facilities, weaving facilities, production facilities, health facilities, training and design facilities, etc.

Health Insurance for Weavers: Over one-lakh weavers from Varanasi are being covered under the weavers’ health insurance scheme. There are also a large number of powerloom workers. They could be covered under the Rashtriya Swastiya Bima Yojana, to be launched on 1st April 2008. We will work with the State Government on this.

Payment of overdue electricity bills: The Prime Minister is aware of the problems being faced by weavers on account of overdue electricity bills. The government is working to see how relief could be provided to weavers from the burden of past electricity bills

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