NEW DELHI: The much talked about promise by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of giving maternity benefits to all women has hit a roadblock because of lack of funds and will benefit only those who have their first child under the programme.
As per the scheme, pregnant and lactating mothers are provided a cash incentive of Rs 6,000 upon fulfilling several preconditions. This is meant to compensate women for loss of wages and also aims to provide them adequate nutrition and rest before and after delivery as well as enable them to breastfeed the newborn.
Earlier, the scheme was applicable for the first two baby births but due to marginal decrease in the budget of Women and Child Development Ministry, it will become impossible to implement the scheme.
Though a fund of Rs 2,700 crore was set aside for maternity benefit scheme, according to the ministry this fund would be insufficient.
In his address to the nation, on December 31 last year, Modi had announced pan-India expansion of the existing Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana which was being implemented across 56 districts on pilot-basis since 2010.
The Centre is also likely to reduce its share of expenditure per beneficiary by asking states to contribute 50 per cent of the cost.
However, according to ministry, to run the scheme successfully, the Centre and state both have to contribute equally and that is why such a decision was taken.
The Centre will be contributing Rs 3,000 to each beneficiary, which is 50 per cent of the total entitlement of Rs 6,000. With Rs 2,700 crore granted for maternity programme, the ministry is targeting 90 lakh beneficiaries.
According to latest Civil Registration System of 2013, there were a total of 2.24 crore registered births across the country.