Editor’s Note: This article was updated with significant changes on April 24 2019, following clarifications from the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The full message from the Press Information Bureau regarding clarifications is appended to the end of the article.
The original text was an excerpt from the book Vada Faramoshi, which evaluates the Modi government’s major schemes, published with special permission. It was translated from the Hindi original by Naushin Rehman.
Seventy years after independence, malnutrition and anaemia were still widespread among pregnant women in India. The Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) is the Modi government’s scheme to alleviate that.
A woman suffering from malnutrition is more likely to give birth to a malnourished child. Once affected in the womb, people continue to suffer from malnutrition throughout their lives, as some symptoms can never be completely reversed.
The government identified this problem in the 1980s, especially among lactating women, poor women, and women working in the unorganised sector.
A maternity benefit scheme, the Matritva Labh Yojana, was launched to give pregnant women Rs 6,000. The scheme was later renamed Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojna, and implemented in 53 districts.
On January 1, 2017, the Modi government decided to implement the scheme across the country. Its name was changed to the PMMVY, and the cash incentive was reduced from Rs 6,000 to Rs 5,000, to be given in three instalments.
According to a report published in the Hindustan Times on January 15, 2018, a year after its launch, merely 2% beneficiaries had received support from the scheme.
We asked the government several questions with a Right to Information request. The response we received was shocking.
According to the documents received, as of November 30, 2018, Rs 1,655.83 crore had been released to be paid to 18,82,708 beneficiaries.
Yet it spent Rs 6,966 crore on the process to distribute this support.
This means that administrative expenses were 4.2 times more than the total amount offered to malnourished mothers.
Look at it state-wise
In Odisha, only five beneficiaries were registered under the scheme as of November 2018. That means only Rs 25,000 was distributed. But more than Rs 274 crore was spent on administrative expenses.
In Assam, a similar figure has come to light: Rs 11.58 crore has reached 3,099 beneficiaries, yet administrative expenses were Rs 410 crore.
In Gujarat, there are 1,21,422 beneficiaries registered under the scheme, among whom Rs 96.15 crore was distributed. But the government had to involve 52,584 anganwadis and spend an additional Rs 297.21 crore for the scheme.
In Kerala, Rs 64.66 crore has been distributed among 81,708 lactating women till November 30, 2018. But 33,452 anganwadis had to be enrolled for the task, at an administrative cost of Rs 71.06 crore.
In Bihar, the scheme incurred Rs 317.23 crore as administrative costs while the number of beneficiaries was only 12,415.
In comparison, 14,325 and 30,678 beneficiaries profited from the scheme in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh respectively.
Ministry claims error in RTI reply
After this article was published, The Wire received an email from Nanu Bhasin, an officer of the Press Information Bureau, on behalf of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
The email clarified that the ministry’s reply to the RTI “inadvertently mentioned ‘Rupees in Crores’ instead of ‘Rupees in Lakh’”, leading to figures that are “grossly incorrect”.
“It is further clarified that an amount of Rs. 2,654. 97 crore has been disbursed to 72.00 lakh beneficiaries,” Bhasin told The Wire. ” Her full response, including the amended figures claimed by the ministry, has been included below.
The authors of this piece stand by the original article, which was based solely on the original documents obtained from the ministry. Not a single word or figure has been changed.
We also cite Annexure 4, received with the ministry’s original reply, that states the number of anganwadis involved in implementation, as of November 30, 2018, as 10,84,142. This figure is proportional to the exorbitant administrative expenses given in the original reply.
Editor’s note: The message from the Press Information Bureau official follows.
In Ministry’s reply on 17.12.2018 to the said RTI application, in Annexure-2 of the reply, it has been inadvertently mentioned ‘Rupees in Crores’ instead of‘Rupees in Lakh’. The same information furnished by the Ministry has been used for the said article.
It is further clarified that an amount of Rs. 2,654. 97 crore has been disbursed to 72.00 lakh beneficiaries comprising their 167.56 lakh applications as on 7th April 2019 (one beneficiary is required to submit three applications for three instalments on different occasions).
As per the WCD Ministry, the ‘Scheme’ has been rolled out across the Country. In the States of Tamil Nadu and Telangana, PMMVY has been co-branded with their respective State Maternity Benefit Schemes. The respective softwares have also been integrated. However, the Government of Odisha has not yet on-boarded as PMMVY is yet to be co-branded with their State Maternity Scheme.
It is further clarified that as on 07th April, 2019, in Assam, Rs. 38.31 Crore has been given to 1.40 lakhs beneficiaries while the cost of administrative expenses for the work is only Rs. 3.15 crore as against Rs.410 crore mentioned in the news article. In Gujarat, Rs.154.31 crore was distributed to 3.63 lakhs beneficiaries and the administrative expenses are only Rs.2.16 crore as against Rs.297.21 crore mentioned.
In Kerela, Rs.94.13 crore has been distributed among 2.45 lakhs beneficiaries. In Bihar, the number of beneficiaries to receive the instalments is 2.71 lakhs while amount paid is Rs.68.90 Crore with reported administrative expenses of only Rs. 4.80 lakhs. In comparison, 71,179 and 82,718 beneficiaries profited from the scheme in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh respectively.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development has also released Rs. 74.14 crore for administrative expenses for states/UT till now. The States have reported to spend only Rs. 50.12 crore as administrative expenses upto 07th April, 2019. It is further clarified that the funds disbursed by the Ministry towards administrative expenses is not necessarily fully utilised by the state/UTs. Thus claiming that the amount disbursed by the Ministry towards administrative expenses as expenditure on administrative process of distribution is factually incorrect.
It is further mentioned that under the ‘Scheme’, Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW&LM) receive a cash benefit of Rs.5,000 in three instalments on fulfilling the respective conditionalities, viz. early registration of pregnancy, ante-natal check-up and registration of the birth of the child and completion of first cycle of vaccination for the first living child of the family.
The eligible beneficiaries also receive the remaining cash incentive as per approved norms towards maternity benefit under Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) after institutional delivery so that on an average, a woman gets Rs.6,000.
The table of state-wise beneficiaries, amount paid and administrative expenses made till date is given below:
|Name of the State/ UT||Total Beneficiaries enrolled||Beneficiaries Paid||Total Payment Paid
(Rupees in Lakh)
|Expenditure incurred on Administrative Expenses as reported by States/UTs
(Rupees in Lakh)
|All India Total||83,30,997||72,00,472||265497.01||5012.12|
|ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLANDS||3,204||3,048||124.55||21.40|
|DADRA AND NAGAR HAVELI||3,862||3,336||109.11||NR|
|DAMAN AND DIU||2,235||1,704||57.80||NR|
|JAMMU AND KASHMIR||84,211||71,179||2725.44||NR|
Accordingly, it is requested that the clarification of the WCD Ministry should be published immediately in your esteemed news portal to avoid any unnecessary confusion which may be created by the report.