Five states that account for over a fifth of the total beneficiaries are yet to take the benefit of centre’s conditional cash transfer scheme for pregnant women. In the last one year since its rollout, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal, and Assam have not taken the benefit of the funds from the central scheme, The Indian Express reported citing unidentified officials from the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The government since the release of the scheme has disbursed Rs 673 crore to 23.6 lakh beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana (PMMVY).
Since many of these states have their own schemes running that offer higher sums and have a more universal coverage, they have refused the money from the centre. “Some of these states are not doing their job since they have their own schemes which are very CM- driven or are staying out for political reasons. These states together account for 23 percent of beneficiaries. After much convincing, Tamil Nadu and Telangana have agreed to come on board by June-end,” the report said citing an unidentified official.
The non-cooperation of these states may result in the centre being held legally accountable for not covering all states as required of it under National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, the same officials said.
It was in December 2016 that prime minister Narendra Modi all pregnant and lactating women would receive Rs 6000 under the scheme. However, the scheme was actually started in 2010 by UPA II government as as Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahayog Yojana in 53 of the country’s 650 districts. But, NFSA required the government to make the coverage universal.
In the re-launched scheme, the cover was made universal, but the cash transfer was limited to single birth as against two live births earlier owing to poor budgetary allocation. Many of these opposing states have their own versions of the scheme and pay much more to the lactating and pregnant women, and cover two live births.