The Jagan Mohan Reddy-led Andhra Pradesh government announced that 7 lakh more beneficiaries would be added under the YSR Pension scheme from January 2020, on Monday, October 14. It also promised to make the women self-help groups (Podupu Sangams) debt-free. The Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy confirmed this at a review meeting on District Rural Development Agency Project Directors held at the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) office in Vijayawada. Furthermore, he stated that the loans of the Podupu Sangams would be waived off.
The minister said, "7 lakh more beneficiaries will be added to the YSR Pension scheme from January 2020. The government will clear Rs 27, 186 crore dues to banks taken by 9.33 lakh Women Self Help Groups (Podupu Sangams) and make them debt-free. DRDA PDs must go on fieldwork for 15 days every month. The officials should monitor the execution of the prestigious 'Navaratnalu' scheme, rural development projects and various other government schemes in the state.” He added, "9.33 lakh Podupu Sangams in the state have to pay loan amount of Rs 27,168 crore. Women will be relieved from this debt. By April 11, this financial year, women have to pay Rs 1,823 crore; the government is also ready to bear this burden. For the interest of the first 5 months, Rs 760 crore will be directly deposited in the loan accounts.”
On this occasion, the government also signalled its intention to increase the budget for the women's self-help groups.
“The budget for self-help groups will be increased to Rs 1,800 crore from Rs 900 crore under woman treasury. Financial assistance that is given for women will be increased to one lakh from Rs.50,000," the minister remarked.
The YSR Pension scheme was launched on May 30, 2019, after Jagan Mohan Reddy assumed office as Chief Minister. The State government not only enhanced the pension amount but also reduced the age criteria for old-age pension. Under this scheme, old persons, widows, toddy tappers, weavers, single women, fishermen, and traditional cobblers will receive Rs 2,250 per month. While differently-abled persons are granted Rs 3,000 per month, people affected with chronic kidney disease and those undergoing dialysis in government hospitals are entitled to a monthly sum of Rs 10,000.