Dehradun: The Uttarakhand government has decided to grant a pension of Rs 800 per month to purohits living in the hills to stop their migration to the plains in search of livelihood, a senior official said here on Saturday.
"Purohits living in the hills who don't have a proper means of livelihood will now get a pension of Rs 800 per month so that they are not forced to ?migrate to the plains in search of work," Additional Chief Secretary S Raju told a news agency.
The decision was approved by the state cabinet at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Harish Rawat here recently, he said.
The social welfare department has been asked to identify such purohits and provide a list to the state government at the earliest, the official said, adding the scheme will come into effect the day the process of identification is complete.
The scheme was conceived to stop forced migration of purohits from the hills who often don't have a dependable source of income, the official said.
However, purohits at the famous Himalayan shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri who earn well would not be come under ambit of the scheme, he said.
Reading political meanings into the decision, opposition BJP termed it as a move by Rawat government to woo Brahmin voters ahead of the state Assembly Elections due in 2017.
Brahmins constitute a substantial 28-30 percent of the total electorate in the state.
"The scheme has obvious political motives. It has been launched by the Chief Minister to woo the brahmin voters who play a decisive role in all elections. It is a political move on part of Rawat with an eye on 2017 state Assembly polls," Pradesh BJP spokesman Suresh Joshi said.
However, the ruling Congress rejected the charge, saying it was not fair on part of the opposition to read political meanings into every positive step taken by the state government for the welfare of people.
"It is a decision taken for the welfare of purohits who are without proper means of livelihood. It will help rein in the perennial problem of migration from the hills. I don't understand why the opposition sees politics in everything," Chief Minister's media advisor Surendra Kumar said.