HEALTH AUTHORITIES find themselves in a ‘Catch-22’ situation as steps taken to save them from one trouble have landed them into another.
Directives have been given to issue cheques instead of cash payments to beneficiaries of the Janani Suraksha Yojana and the Vijayaraje Janani Kalyan Bima Yojana, reportedly to ward off corruption in cash disbursement. However, authorities are facing problems as maximum women do not have savings bank account.
Both schemes — the Janani Suraksha Yojana and the Vijayaraje Janani Kalyan Bima Yojana – were launched to promote institutional deliveries among women in the wake of poor maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the State.
While the BPL card is not compulsory in the first scheme and Rs 1,400 (in rural areas) and Rs 1,000 (in urban areas) are given as incentives for institutional delivery, in the second scheme, having a BPL card is a must for the woman to get up to Rs 1,000 for meeting medical expenses before and during delivery (same for both rural and urban areas).
Until recently, subject to conditions, any woman from the BPL category were getting cash incentives from respective institutions where she delivered her child. However, reports of corruption from many places and also in a bid to bring in uniformity in disbursing practice in wake of different practices (cash/cheque) followed at different places, the State Government issued a directive earlier this week to pay all amounts though cheques.
Now officials at the various institutions are facing trouble, as women are refusing to accept cheques and are demanding cash. At the Govind Vallabh Pant District Hospital here, there are at least 5-6 cases of delivery daily. According to Civil Surgeon Dr Subhash Dubey, “We have received orders to issue cheques but nearly 99 per cent of the women coming here (District Hospital) do not have bank accounts. What do we do then?”
To open a savings bank account, one needs some photo-identification proof like a PAN card or passport or voter’s ID card. Address proof - either an electricity bill or telephone bill is also to be submitted. Added to this, banks expect Rs 500 as minimum balance amount, relaxed to Rs 100 in exceptional cases. Little wonder why women, mostly belonging to BPL category, are reluctant to open an account.
Chief Medical and Health Officer in-charge Dr Mudgal says, “There are definitely problems in implementing the scheme, particularly in rural areas. But we are bound by the Government order.”
Additional Collector Renu Pant, who on January 17 issued directives in this regard, says, “Those who do not have account, should open it. After all, if a woman has to get even Rs 1,000 or Rs 2400, its not a small amount.”
A maximum number of deliveries take place at the M Y Hospital and of these, most of the women fall under either of the two categories to avail the incentive for institutional delivery. When asked about the problems being faced by them, M Y Hospital Superintendent Dr D K Jain said, “We don’t have any problems. We have been asked to pay cheques, we would. It is the women’s problem, if they don’t have an account.”