As Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the PM Vishwakarma Yojana, a controversy erupted on Sunday in Kerala with the BJP alleging that the state government boycotted the scheme for traditional artisans and craftsmen.
BJP state president K Surendran made the allegation against the government as State Industries Minister P Rajeeve, MLAs and District Collector NSK Umesh stayed away from the state-level inauguration of the programme in Kochi.
Addressing the media after the event, Surendran said it should be protested that the minister, collector and the people's representatives stayed away from a scheme that benefits the marginalised communities. He said Kerala will be benefit the most from the scheme as there are 18 communities which will benefit from it.
"They should explain to the people why they boycotted the event. The decision reflected the CPM's attitude towards the poor and the marginalised," he said.
The goal of the Rs. 13,000-cr Vishwakarma scheme is to enhance the accessibility and quality of products and services offered by traditional artisans and craftsmen.
Minister flags protocol violation
Minister P Rajeeve refuted the allegation that the state government has boycotted the scheme. He said the government has made all the arrangements for the smooth implementation of the programme. He said Industries Department secretary Ajith Kumar IAS has been given the charge to implement the programme. He said he could not attend the programme due to other events committed earlier.
He, however, told Onmanorama that there was a protocol violation in the programme. "Coir Board chairman was the chief guest when minister and people's representatives were to be present. It's unusual. I was invited by Railways PRO and the programme was sent only at 8 pm yesterday. There was no proper government to government communication," he said.
He said the protocol violation was first pointed out by Hibi MP.
The Vishwakarma scheme offers collateral-free enterprise development loans of Rs 1 lakh (first tranche for 18 months repayment) and Rs 2 lakh (second tranche for 30 months repayment).
Under PM Vishwakarma scheme, artisans and craftspeople will be provided recognition through PM Vishwakarma certificate and ID card, credit support up to Rs 1 lakh (first tranche) and Rs 2 lakh (second tranche) with a concessional interest rate of 5 per cent.
The scheme will further provide skill upgradation, toolkit incentive, incentive for digital transactions and marketing support.
Artisan or craftsmen working with hands and tools and engaged in one of the 18 family-based traditional trades are eligible to avail the benefits of the scheme.
These trades include carpenter, boat maker, armourer, blacksmith, hammer and toolkit maker, locksmith, goldsmith, potter, sculptor (moortikar, stone carver), stone breaker, cobbler, mason, basket/mat/broom maker/coir weaver, doll & toy maker (traditional), barber, garland maker, washermen, tailor, and fishing net makers.