Gogoi to girls: Marry after 20, get Rs 10K
Girls below poverty line in Assam now have a 10,000-rupee reason to withstand marriage until they turn 20.
Like most states across India, Assam has a dismal record of underage marriages. Official estimates say over 45 per cent of girls in backward, rural areas are married off soon after attaining puberty.
In a bid to reverse this trend, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi announced a financial incentive to every BPL girl who ties the knot only after turning 20. “We hope this one-time award of Rs 10,000 serves its purpose,” he said while presenting a deficit budget of Rs 4615.11 crore on Monday.
Gogoi also announced a new scheme to ensure a decent living for every “unmarried and unemployed single woman and widow”. An initial fund of Rs 1 crore has been earmarked for this scheme that’s envisaged to take care of the beneficiaries’ monthly requirements.
If that were not enough, the “woman-friendly” annual fiscal plan saw gender budgeting being extended from 12 to 15 departments. Introduced last fiscal, gender budgeting entails setting aside a part of each department’s annual budget specifically for “100 per cent women-oriented” schemes.
TEA TAX RELIEF: The meltdown-mauled tea industry in Assam can now breathe easier with the Assam government announcing an agricultural income tax concession from the current fiscal. The relief, though, comes with a rider – the tea has to be exported through the Inland Container Deport at Amingaon, facing Guwahati across the river Brahmaputra.
“In order to boost export of Assam tea, the deduction from agricultural income on tea exported from ICD has been raised from Re 1 to Rs 5 per kg under the provisions of the Assam Agricultural Income Tax Act, 1934,” said Gogoi.
Assam accounts for 51 per cent of the total tea produced in India. It had recovered from a prolonged market slump before the global meltdown began hitting hard late last year. Scanty rainfall since October 2008 added to the industry’s misery with production in the first quarter this year falling by 65-75 per cent.
The dry run notwithstanding, Assam’s annual tea production averages 450 million kg, a quarter of which is exported.