Punjab has a long queue of couples waiting for the promised inter-caste-marriage benefit that the union government had come out with to abolish caste consciousness.
The benefit's cost burden is shared on 50:50 basis with the states. In Hoshiarpur alone, 271 cases are pending with the welfare department for years. Details that Social Democratic Party president Jai Gopal Dhiman secured through the Right to Information (RTI) Act suggest that between March 2000 and March 2013, the department had received 392 applications, of only 121 cases were settled. In 2011, the cash benefit was raised from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 50,000.
The Centre did not give its share after 2007," welfare minister Gulzar Singh Ranike said here on Tuesday, adding: "Only recently it released Rs. 1.23 crore for the year 2011-12. The state government will also release its matching share." Asked about the older pending cases, he said he was not sure if the Centre would consider them. "I cannot give you the exact number of pending applications but the backlog is huge definitely," he said.
How to claim benefit
The beneficiary spouses should be citizens of India and either husband or wife should be from the Scheduled Caste, besides being permanent resident of the respective state. The grant is one-time, for the first marriage only. Claimants can apply within a year of marriage. Attested copy of the genuine SC certificate and self-declaration of not having received the incentive before are required. The district welfare officer (DWO) will verify the details and put the case before the deputy commissioner concerned along with recommendation. The DC will sanction the amount, which the DWO will draw and deposit in the couple's joint account.