The Maharashtra government Thursday said restrictions imposed on income support to pregnant women from the weaker sections would be removed.
Additional Chief Secretary (Planning) Sunil Porwal said his department would move a proposal to reverse the cap. “We agree that it is unfair. We will correct it,” he said. “All pregnant women who are entitled to the benefit from April (2015) will be covered,” he added.
Under a state-sponsored welfare scheme that is being implemented in 22 districts of Maharashtra, pregnant women from weaker sections are provided a one-time assistance of Rs 4,000 during their last month of pregnancy, in a bid to ensure that they remain healthy and get adequate nourishment without being forced to take up menial jobs.
The benefit is meant for women from Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and those living below the poverty line.
The Indian Express had reported Thursday how thousands of eligible women entitled to the benefit would have been deprived of the benefit after the state government issued orders that restricted the benefit only to those women who entered their ninth month of pregnancy after mid-September 2015.
The state government had been criticised for capping the benefit following the failure to release the necessary grant for 2015-16 till mid-September.
Senior officials said the state had plans to modify its own government resolution. “The resolution ruled that the money must be disbursed in the ninth month of pregnancy. The delay in release of grants meant that money was not distributed to mothers who entered their ninth month of pregnancy between April 1 and September 15 last year. We will now reword the resolution to cover these beneficiaries too,” said a senior official. A section in the state bureaucracy too had questioned the merit of partially implementing a welfare scheme.
Sources said collectors from at least three districts — Nandurbar, Nashik, and Chandrapur — had written to the government seeking release of the amount under the scheme for 2016-17 in April to avoid a repeat of the controversy.