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Not a rupee spent on PM’s maternity scheme in Uttar Pradesh: RTI reply

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narendra modi

New Delhi, Sep 13: Not a rupee of government money has been spent on pregnant and lactating women enrolled under the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-hyped maternity benefit scheme till August 2018 in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), which happens to have India’s highest fertility rate, an RTI query has revealed.

This, despite the fact that UP got the largest sanctioned amount of over Rs 336 crore from a total of Rs 2,049 crore in 2017-18 approved by the central government for 29 states and seven Union Territories, the query filed by IANS under the Right To Information (RTI) revealed.

According to the reply by the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry, only 184 women have enrolled in UP for the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) since its inception in January 2017 up to August 2018 — out of 44 lakh women enrolled across the country in 717 districts.

maternity child birth

While the number of beneficiaries stand at more than 34 lakh across the country, not a single woman in Uttar Pradesh has received payment under the maternity scheme, the RTI reply showed.

According to a NITI Aayog report of 2016, Uttar Pradesh has the second highest fertility rate (children per woman) of 3.1 after Bihar which has a fertility rate of 3.3. The ideal fertility rate as mentioned by the central government is 2.4.

The Health Ministry’s data released in July this year on Total Fertility Rate (TFR) further elaborates that 11 districts like Bahraich, Sitapur, Hardoi, Shahjahanpur, Banda, Gonda, Etah, Balrampur, among others, have a fertility rate of 4.

According to the fact sheet, 19 districts in UP have a TFR between 3.5 and 4, while 28 have a TFR of between 3 and 3.5.

The RTI further revealed that apart from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab has low enrollment of only 7 women while the beneficiaries are a mere 5. The state was allocated Rs 46.49 crore.

West Bengal has the highest number of women enrolled in the scheme — 6.8 lakh — of which more than 5 lakh lactating and first time mothers have benefited. The centre sanctioned Rs 102 crore for the state.

According to the WCD Ministry, the cost-sharing ratio for the maternity benefit programme between the centre and states and those UTs with a legislature is 60:40. The centre shares 90 per cent of the programme for the northeastern and Himalayan states and provides the full amount for UTs without legislature.

However, as per the government, Aadhaar is mandatory for women who wants to get enrolled for the maternity scheme. Also, states and UTs have been asked to maintain an Escrow Account for the scheme to pay out, thus avoiding parking of the funds with them.

Currently, the scheme is being implemented through the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) platform under the WCD or Social welfare state departments, barring a few states like Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, where it is looked after by the health department.

The RTI reply noted that in Tamil Nadu, there has not been a single enrolment under the PMMVY scheme and therefore there are no beneficiaries as the state operates a similar maternity benefit scheme. However, the Centre released more than Rs 120 crore to the state in 2017-18.

Initially launched as the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) in 2010 under the UPA-II government, the scheme was renamed Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) after Modi announced its pan-India implementation in all districts of the country during a New Year’s Eve speech on December 31, 2016.

Under the scheme, eligible beneficiaries get Rs 5,000 after delivery of a child in an institution like a hospital and the remaining cash incentive of Rs 1,000 is given as maternity benefit under the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) for a Rs 6,000.

Applicable to women aged above 19 for the first birth, the scheme provides partial compensation to women for the wage-loss during birth and child care and provides conditions for safe delivery and good nutrition and feeding practices, according to the information availableon the scheme.

IANS

India

Opposition requests President to return farm Bills for reconsideration

After the meeting senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “the govt did not have the numbers and our request for division was ignored and even the resolution against the Bill was not allowed”

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Ram Nath Kovind

Opposition leaders met President Kovind on Wednesday and apprised him of the circumstances amid which the Farm Bills were passed in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday. They requested him to return the Bills for reconsideration to the House.

After the meeting Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “the government did not have the numbers and our request for division was ignored and even the resolution against the Bill was not allowed.”

The opposition said that the government ignored the demand for sending the Bills to a select committee.

Ahead of this meeting, the Congress and other opposition parties continued to protest in the Parliament complex here on Wednesday.

The protesting lawmakers marched from Gandhi’s statue in the complex to BR Ambedkar’s statue within the premises to register their protest while carrying placards.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted: “All MPs of the Congress and like-minded parties are marching from the Gandhi statue to the Ambedkar statue in Parliament to protest against anti-farmers and anti-workers Bills rubber stamped in Parliament in the most undemocratic manner by the Modi government.”

Earlier, the opposition leaders met in the chamber of Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and decided to continue their protest over the Farm Bills.

The opposition and the government are at loggerheads ever since the two farm Bills were passed amid a ruckus in the Upper House on Sunday. The third contentious Bill on essential commodities was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

On Sunday, pandemonium broke out in the Upper House as the opposition protested over the two Farm Bills. Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien even approached the Chair and tried to snatch a mike while citing the rule book.

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Navy’s capabilities hit by PSUs’ lack of expertise, delays: CAG

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MiG 29K Indian Airforce

New Delhi, Sep 23 : The Indian Navy does not have adequate auxiliary vessels, landing platform docks, fleet tankers and cadet training ships, government’s financial watchdog, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said on Wednesday.

It also said that the navy is facing problems due to inordinate delays in the acquisition process and lack of expertise of defence public sector undertakings (PSUs).

The CAG’s audit report on Defence Services, Navy and Coast Guard was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.

In its performance audit on efficacy of auxiliary vessels — vessels designed to operate in support of combatant ships and other naval operations — in the Indian Navy, the government auditor stated that their strength was not increasing commensurately with the increase in the combat fleet.

“In fact, it was declining,” it said.

The planned targets for acquisition of auxiliary vessels could not be achieved due to inordinate delays in acquisition process, specifically, non-adherence to the prescribed timelines in conclusion of contracts, it said, pointing out that this was principally on account of lack of expertise of defence PSUs and non-assessment of capability of shipyards.

On assessment of landing platform dock (LPD), CAG stated that the existing capability of the LPD, which is used to transport troops, defence equipment, helicopters and vessels into a war zone, was found to be inadequate to meet requirements of amphibious and expeditionary operations.

The Indian Navy had decided to acquire this vital warfare ship in October 2010 at a cost of Rs 16,000 crore.

However, even after nine years, the contract has not been concluded.

“This was due to failure to fix a specified time frame for obtaining a Corporate Debt Restructuring exit certificate by one of the participating firms,” the report stated.

On fleet tankers, the CAG stated that due to the inadequate availability of fleet tankers, the Indian Navy was thus forced to hire ships from trade and these vessels are used for providing fuel, water, ammunition and stores to the fleet at sea.

The approval for acquisition of fleet tankers to a force level at a cost of Rs 9,045 crore was accorded in 2014. However, the contract was yet to be concluded till August 2019.

The CAG also stated that Indian Navy did not possess enough cadet training ships, and “therefore, converted normal fleet ships to training ships” but the “converted vessels, however, experienced severe limitations in operations”.

The contracts concluded (June 2011 and November 2012) for acquisition of three cadet training ships did not fructify and bank guarantees worth Rs 324.73 crore were yet to be encashed.

The audit also observed that there was loss due to irregular stepping-up of pay of sailors.

System-driven mass stepping-up of pay of 21,089 sailors was carried out by the Naval Pay Office between 2009 and 2011 by misinterpreting the rules and side-lining the relevant pre-audit checks.

“The wrong stepping-up of pay which was reverted in 2017 led to overpayment of at least Rs 22.70 crore. Incorrect fixation of pay and pension is not yet completely rectified,” it said.

It also stated that simulator and training aids were procured at a cost of Rs 120.66 crore in July 2015, and certain defects were noticed in the training aids but these were not rectified.

The training aids, therefore, could not be commissioned. Training was, therefore, imparted to pilots directly on Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers in live sortie flying mode, it said.

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CAG picks holes in Railway’s elaborate plans for Kumbh Mela

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Prayagraj, Kumbh 2019

New Delhi, Sep 23 : The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India on Wednesday pointed out various shortcomings in Railways’ elaborate plans to control rail traffic during the Kumbh Mela in 2019.

In the report tabled in both Parliament, the government auditor slammed the railways for failing to address issues such as running of special trains, works related to passenger amenities and safety, medical facilities to passengers, and waste management at station premises during the massive religious gathering.

It said that this led to inconvenience to passengers, who were not adequately addressed by the railways.

“Temporary fencing at vulnerable locations (track and station entry point) were not completed. This led to cases of free movement of cattle on tracks and passengers trespassing. Audit noted that the Railway estimated (September 2018) an evacuation of 33 lakh passengers, which was subsequently revised (December 2018) to 45.48 lakh. Railways initiated a figure of 73.66 lakh evacuation of passengers during Mela period,” it said.

It also noted that the Railways planned 821 special trains, but ran only 565.

“A significantly higher number of passengers, with fewer special trains resulted in large overcrowding of trains and caused much inconvenience to passengers,” it said.

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