UPA committed to welfare of poor, women: Sonia

Pachpadra (Rajasthan), Sep 22 (IANS) UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi Sunday highlighted the "unique" food security step and the rural jobs scheme to emphasise that the government's focus is on welfare of people from the weaker sections and women.

She was addressing a large gathering after laying the foundation stone of a Rs.37,000 crore, nine million tonnes per annum-capacity refinery and petrochemical complex at Pachpadra in Rajasthan's Barmer district, some 410 km from Jaipur.

"The UPA government's focus has always been on strengthening of people from the weaker sections and women. Our priority is that development should happen and every section of society should benefit from it," said Gandhi.

In her 10-minute speech, Gandhi praised the welfare schemes launched by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

"The UPA government has taken revolutionary steps and enacted laws for overall development. For example, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has ensured employment for people in the rural areas."

To root out starvation and malnutrition, the government has brought in the food security bill which will directly benefit 80 crore people, she said.

"It is a unique step," she said.

"Questions were raised over the availability of resources when we tried to implement the food security bill, but we were of the view that the resources would have to be mobilised for the welfare of 80 crore people," said Gandhi.

She said that to curb corruption in the public distribution scheme the government was trying to connect the basic facilities with the Aadhar card scheme.

"Likewise, using the Right to Information Act, anybody can get information from government departments," said Gandhi, pointing to the anti-corruption steps taken by the UPA.

She said the government had never ignored the welfare of farmers.

"To ensure that nobody can snatch away land from a farmer, we have introduced the land acquisition bill," said Gandhi.

She added that the proposed refinery and petrochemical complex at Pachpadra showed the willpower of the central and state governments towards ensuring development.

"The refinery will bring with it over 25,000 jobs. The region will witness unprecedented development in the coming years. The revenue generated by the state government's share in the refinery will be used for the welfare of the common man," said Gandhi.

She praised the public welfare schemes including the free health check-up and medicine scheme launched by the Ashok Gehlot-headed Congress government in Rajasthan.

Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister M. Veerappa Moily said people in the Barmer region will benefit from the jobs created by the refinery.

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