Tribal Affairs Ministry to ensure empowerment of weaker sections

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Gujjars, Bakerwals need sense of security: Mehbooba

SRINAGAR: Emphasizing upon making economically-weak and socially-disadvantaged communities equal partners in state’s development, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Saturday said the government has created a separate Tribal Affairs ministry to ensure empowerment of weaker sections, especially Gujjars and Bakerwals.

Placing high priority on allocating certain portion of funds in departmental plans for upliftment of Gujjars and Bakerwals, Mufti said that the funds should be released on time so that the benefits trickle down to the intended beneficiaries.

He was speaking at the 34th meeting of the State Advisory Board for Development of Gujjar & Bakerwal community, at SKICC, here this afternoon.

Besides Member Parliament, Mehbooba Mufti, Minister for Heath & Medical Education, Ch. Lal Singh, Minister for Rural Development, Abdul Haq Khan, Minister for CA&PD & Tribal Affairs, Ch. Zulfkar, Minister for Finance & Culture, Dr. Haseeb A. Drabu, Minister for Social Welfare & Forest, Bali Baghat, Minister for Education, Naeem Akhtar and Minister for PHE, I&FC, Sukhnandan Kumar and Vice Chairman State Advisory Board for Gujjars & Bakerwals, Ch. Zafar Ali were also present on the occasion.

 Describing education as the key to empowerment of Gujjars and Bakerwals, the Chief Minister announced setting of two girls’ hostels at Udhampur and Kupwara districts. 

Mufti also passed directions for upgrading GB schools at Srinagar and Jammu as institutes of excellence, on the pattern of Model School Scheme in the Education Department. “I also announce enhancement of food stipend in hostels for schoolchildren from Rs. 50 to Rs. 100,” he said, while stressing upon improving the dilapidated condition of existing hostels.

The Chief Minister also ordered framing of a committee that will choose the best wardens so that the hostels are run in a professional manner.

Calling upon hassle-free movement of livestock and nomadic Gujjars, Mufti Sayeed announced distribution of nearly 10,000 solar lights amongst the community who don’t have access to electricity. He also said the government will consider extending guarantee to SC/ST Corporation to avail bank finance for alleviation of the socially-weak community.

Mehbooba Mufti, in her address, said the government needs to take effective steps to instil a sense of security in the Gujjar & Bakerwal community. She stressed upon the need to socially empower them on vital indicators in road connectivity, health, power and education sectors. “A dairy cooperative movement and livestock insurance are among several confidence building measures which are required to be taken for giving the community a sense of inclusiveness,” she said, while supporting earmarking some percentage of funds for welfare of Gujjars and Bakerwals by the Finance Department.   

Referring to the hardships faced by the Gujjars & Bakerwals, Ch. Lal Singh highlighted the pathetic condition of the community and called for steps for their social and economic upliftment. He said the community is marginalized and special focus is required to improve their lot.   

In his address, the Tribal Affairs Minister highlighted the difficulties faced by the community and hailed the Chief Minister for creating a separate Tribal Affairs Ministry. “I assure that the money and resources allocated will be optimally utilized for the betterment of the community,” he said, while stressing upon promotion of education sector by setting up of more schools and hostels. 

He said the Tribal Affairs Ministry, in coordination with the Education Department, will make Gujjar schools institutes of excellence.

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