The Union government has denied millions of Indian women their legal right to maternity benefits worth Rs. 84,000 crores over the last seven years. In 2013, the National Food Security Act made a provision for maternity benefits to women. According to section 4 of this law, every pregnant and lactating mother is entitled to nutritious food and maternity benefits of at least Rs. 6,000, to be provided in instalments prescribed by the central government.
This legal commitment required an additional budgetary allocation. Presuming a population of 132 crores, a birth rate of 20 per thousand, and 90% coverage, the estimated annual budget for this scheme would be Rs. 14,000 crores, which is less than 0.05% of the GDP, and with disproportionately high benefits of protecting the health and nutrition of mothers and children.
Considering this, the government should have operationalised this legal commitment long ago. Even if the government started the scheme in financial year 2015-16, by now, the full benefits ought to have been rolled out. Therefore, during the seven financial years from 2015-16 to 2021-22, Rs. 98,000 crores would have been provided.
However, the actual expenditure on this legal obligation reveals that what was required for one year (Rs. 14,000 crores) has been spent over the last seven years, if not less. In
— source newsclick.in | Bharat Dogra | 11 Jan 2022