Orissa to start cash transfer scheme for pregnant women

Taking a leaf out of the Muthulakshmi Reddy Memorial Maternity Assistance scheme of Tamil Nadu government, Orissa would launch a maternal benefit scheme from September this year in which over 7 lakh rural women would get financial assistance before and after childbirth.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who undertook a review meeting of the women and child development department last evening, said the Orissa programme called "Mamta" would provide Rs.5,000 to each rural women to enable the pregnant and lactating women to have nutritious food as well as compensate the wage loss owing to their inability to work during the period of pregnancy. But unlike the TN scheme, the Orissa scheme is fairly liberal and open to women irrespective of their APL and BPL status. However, women government employees have been excluded from the scheme.

Although India has a Maternity Benefit Act, in reality most Indian women do not get any maternity benefits as the legislation does not apply to the unorganised sector. The majority of working women in the country work until the last stages of pregnancy and get back to work soon after delivery to avoid loss of wages.

The money will be given in four instalments and will have to be used strictly for the mother's antenatal care and the baby's immunisation with focus on Measles vaccination of the child. The first installment of Rs 1500 will be given after six months of pregnancy with registration and vaccination in an Anganwadi centre. The second installment of Rs 1500 will be paid when the new born is 3 months old with registration and appropriate vaccination of the child. The 3rd and 4th installment of Rs 1000 each will be availed when the baby is six and nine months old with appropriate vaccination and new born care. This scheme will be applicable for the first two pregnancies.

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