Raise own funds to run doorstep services, Kerala govt orders local bodies

Raise own funds to run doorstep services, Kerala govt orders local bodies
Representational image: Ksenia Zvezdina/Shutterstock

Thiruvananthapuram: Self-help is the best help! The Kerala government likely wants the local self-governments to adopt this maxim in terms of raising, at least, a part of finances for its public service initiatives. Accordingly, the local bodies have been directed to raise money for myriad doorstep services by collecting donations and organising fairs.

The Doorstep Assistance Scheme, announced by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan last month, is christened the Kerala Vathilpadi Sevanam Scheme 2021. The doorstep services are meant for unfit senior citizens, bedridden as well as destitute and disabled persons.

As per the directive expenses incurred by corporations, municipalities and villages for extending services to the homes of the eligible citizens should be self-financed. Instead of allocating specific funds for the scheme, which was touted as a major initiative of the government, the directive was given to raise the money from the public.

As per the scheme, services such as application for assistance from the CM's distress relief fund, pension mustering for those who are unable to step out of their homes, life certificate, and medicines will be delivered at the doorstep by Akshaya entrepreneurs and volunteers. In the first phase, the scheme will be implemented within the limits of 50 local bodies.

Panchayats can spend up to Rs 1 lakh, municipalities up to Rs 2 lakh, and corporations can spend up to Rs 5 lakh from their own funds for the scheme.

But in the initial stage, this amount can be used only for project requirements such as laptop, biometric devices, and fuel for vehicles. To pay the volunteers, funds should be raised through donations, and art, sports, entertainment, cultural and trade fairs. The local self-government department has approved the guidelines, that includes these directives.

Key points in the guidelines

• Service charge for a volunteer is Rs 30 for aiding in mustering and Rs 50 for assistance on pension application.

• Rs 20 for aiding in filling up the application for the relief fund.

• Rs 30 for issuing certificate by either taking the beneficiary to meet the official or by bringing the official home.

• Rs 5 per km for fuel expenses for travelling.

• If vehicle has to be arranged, the approved rate will be given.

• Rs 5 per km for travelling in own vehicle. If taking a taxi, the approved rate.

• Akshaya entrepreneurs have to be given the fee fixed by the government.

• The amount has to be transferred to the volunteers' account within seven days.

• A joint account, in the name of the chairperson and the coordinator, is needed to deposit the donations. Income and expenditure figures are subject to audit by the local body committee and finance standing committee.

• Free medicines must be procured from the drug companies and given to those who are unable to buy medicines.

• Gram and ward sabhas should be appraised about the details of the beneficiaries and those who gave donations. And, also of the income and expenditure figures.

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