The Assam government on Wednesday announced that it will gift 10 grams of gold to every adult bride, if she has studied at least up to class 10 and her marriage is registered.
There are some other conditions as well to avail the benefit of the ‘Arundhati Gold Scheme’, which will cost the state exchequer around Rs 800 crores per annum, state Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.
The scheme will commence from January 1 next year.
“We will give every girl one tola (10 grams) of gold during her marriage, provided the marriage is registered. Our focus is not to get votes by giving gold, but to get the marriages registered,” Sarma told a press conference here.
Around 3 lakh marriages take place every year in Assam but only 50,000-60,000 are registered, the minister said.
The annual family income of the bride has to be less than Rs 5 lakh to avail the benefit of the scheme, he added.
“We hope that after the scheme is launched, we will be able to increase the registration to 2-2.5 lakh. If that happens, then we will see an outgo of around Rs 800 crore per annum,” Sarma said.
The government has earmarked Rs 300 crore for the three months of the scheme in this fiscal.
The minister clarified that the benefit will be given only in case of the first marriage of the girl and it has to be registered under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
“The scheme has some riders like the girl has to be at least 18 years of age and the boy 21 years. This will also stop child marriage. Besides, the girl has to pass matric exams (class 10 board exam) to avail the scheme. This will also emphasise on girls’ education,” the minister explained.
However, the educational qualification norm will not be applicable to the girls from the tea garden communities and adivasis as “the government has not been able to set up high schools in such places”.
All the conditions, including the educational and financial, are not applicable to the bridegroom, he clarified.
“We will not give the gold in physical form. After registration and verification, we will deposit Rs 30,000 in her bank account. Then she has to submit the receipt of the gold purchase. This amount cannot be used for other purposes,” Sarma said.
The figure of Rs 30,000 for 10 grams of gold has been arrived at after taking its average price for the entire year and it will be revised during the presentation of every budget, he added.
“This is a social and secular scheme. It is population centred and will help in education awareness, women empowerment and prohibition of child marriages in the state,” he said.
Sarma said the registration of marriages will henceforth be allowed in circle offices too besides the existing facilities at the offices of deputy commissioners.