Punjab Proposes Rs 77 Crore for Veterans’ Welfare in Fiscal 2024-25

by Manjari Singh

Chandigarh, March 6, 2024: Punjab, renowned for its valor and tradition of military service, has set forth a robust proposal aimed at enhancing welfare services for military veterans and their dependents in the fiscal year 2024-25. The state government has earmarked a budget of Rs 77 crore for this noble cause, showcasing its unwavering commitment to those who have served the nation with distinction.

The allocation for veterans’ welfare reflects a slight decrease from the previous fiscal year, where Rs 84 crore had been proposed. However, this allocation stands in stark contrast to the projection of Rs 130 crore for the fiscal year 2022-23, indicating a nuanced approach to resource allocation amidst evolving priorities.

Punjab, often hailed as the heartland of soldiers, boasts the second-highest number of ex-servicemen in the country, second only to Uttar Pradesh. Recent data shared by the Ministry of Defence with the Parliament underscores the significant presence of over 3.27 lakh registered ex-servicemen in Punjab. Additionally, the state shoulders the highest burden of soldiers’ widows nationally, accounting for over 10 percent of the total number.

In his budget speech delivered in Chandigarh, the finance minister unveiled several key initiatives aimed at bolstering the welfare infrastructure for veterans and their families. Notable among these is the decision to double the pension for war jagirs from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 per annum, providing much-needed financial relief to the beneficiaries.

Furthermore, significant allocations have been directed towards enhancing the state’s memorial and educational infrastructure catering to the armed forces community. The War Memorial Complex in Amritsar is slated for a substantial upgrade with an allocation of Rs 8 crore for the development of two new galleries. Similarly, the War Museum in Ludhiana is set to receive Rs 50 lakh for its enhancement.

Investments in education feature prominently in Punjab’s agenda for veterans’ welfare. The Mai Bhago Armed Forces Preparatory Institute for girls at Mohali has been allocated a grant-in-aid of Rs 5.33 crore, with a substantial portion dedicated to building capital assets. The Maharaja Ranjit Singh Armed Forces Services Preparatory Institute for boys, also located in Mohali, is set to receive Rs 4.69 crore, including funds for capital assets.

Recognizing the importance of education in empowerment, Sainik School in Kapurthala has been granted Rs 5 crore for the construction of a new building and infrastructure upgrade, ensuring a conducive learning environment for the wards of servicemen.

Moreover, the Punjab Defence and Security Relief Fund, vital for providing assistance during emergencies, has been allocated a grant-in-aid of Rs 1 crore, maintaining consistency with the previous year’s proposal.

Punjab’s significant contribution to the nation’s armed forces is underscored by the fact that despite constituting only 2.29 percent of the national population, it accounts for about eight percent of personnel below officer rank in the Army. The state’s unwavering commitment to the defense forces is further exemplified by its position as the second-highest contributor of troops to the Army.

As Punjab marches forward with its agenda of veterans’ welfare, it not only honors its rich military legacy but also reaffirms its pledge to stand by those who have dedicated their lives to the service of the nation. Through strategic investments and policy initiatives, the state is poised to set new benchmarks in catering to the needs of its brave soldiers and their families, ensuring that their sacrifices are met with the dignity and support they deserve.

Manjari Singh

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