As many as 155 women out of a sample size of 202 who applied for Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) did not receive their maternity entitlement, according to a survey conducted in six blocks of Jharkhand in June 2019.
Launched in 2017, PMMVY provides for maternity benefits of Rs 5,000 in three installments, but only for the first child.
The survey on the applicants was conducted by a 20-member team, including economist Jean Dreze and his teammates Sakina Dhorajiwala and Pallavi Pratibha in Basia and Raidih in Gumla, Manika in Latehar, Peterwar in Bokaro, Shikaripada in Dumka, and Sonua on West Singhbhum. In each block, the team claimed to have visited a “sample of anganwadis”, with a total of 116 anganwadi centres in 42 gram panchayats, and interviewed then pregnant and nursing women from the anganwadi workers’ list.
“In Jharkhand, where 45% of the children are stunted and 48% are underweight (NHFS-4), maternity entitlements are especially important for the health and well-being of the children and mothers. However, in the sample of 232 women — in which 30 had not applied — less than one-fourth received any installment money. Of those who applied for all three installments (172 out of 202), only 8% received the amount,” said Dreze.
Amitabh Kaushal, Principal Secretary, Department of Social Welfare, Women and Child Development said that more than 70 per cent of the targeted women had benefited, and questioned the sample size.
“Out of the target of 3.9 lakh, 2.9 lakh beneficiaries have been registered under the scheme, 2.41 lakh women got their first installment, 2.2 lakh women got their second installment and 1.2 lakh got their third installment. A total of Rs 92.5 crore has been disbursed,” he added.
Speaking about the challenges faced by the women to avail of the benefits, Dreze said they have to fulfil conditions such as early registration of pregnancy, ante-natal check and immunisation of the child. “They also have to fill a long application form at the local anganwadi for each installment,” he said.