Band, baja, baraat…at last, this will become a pleasant reality for the poor girls in the terror-plagued Jammu and Kashmir!Mehbooba Mufti-led state government has revised the timelines to ensure speedy and effective implementation of the State Marriage Assistance Scheme (SMAS) and deal strictly with inordinate delay in settling the cases.Under SMAS the government provides one-time financial assistance of Rs 25,000 and five-gram gold from the Social Welfare department to poor girls living below poverty line who may not find themselves in a position to marry due to financial constraints.The 27 years of conflict and bloodbath has torn apart the social fabric in conservative Kashmir. Late marriages, infertility and depleting sex ratio has become rampant in the Kashmir Valley.A study conducted by the Sociology department at University of Kashmir in 2009 revealed shocking facts about the fallout of the turmoil.According to the study, an overwhelming majority of 88 per cent of respondents opined that conflict situation in Kashmir has contributed to the emergence of the late marriages, a phenomenon unheard of before the onset of militancy in 1990.Complying with the directions of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, the government on Wednesday issued a circular, in modification to its earlier version, detailing the revised timelines.According to the revised timelines, a period of three working days has been fixed for District Social Welfare Officer, six working days for Sanctioning Authority (Deputy Commissioner) while five working days have been fixed for Director Finance, Social Welfare Department to dispose of the cases under SMAS.“The Government has issued strict directions to all the concerned for ensuring strict adherence to the revised guidelines and any deviation in this regard would be dealt strictly as per the Law”, an official spokesman said.Launched in 2015, the SMAS was aimed at facilitating the poor girls with requisite financial support to enable them solemnize their marriages. Official figures reveal that around 6,589 beneficiaries, who were found eligible to receive the assistance as per guidelines of the scheme, have been brought under the ambit of SMAS upto August 31, 2017.“The Social Welfare Department had also observed that substantial time is being taken for disposing of these cases before referring it to the administrative department for unknown reasons, which is defeating the objective of launching this vital girl specific scheme, where timely assistance has paramount significance”, said the spokesman.
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Yogi Adityanath

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Band, Baja and baraat! Mehbooba Mufti government to speed up scheme to help poor, unmarried girls of Valley