State-funded Balri Rakshak Yojana, a welfare scheme to encourage the birth of more girls to balance the skewed sex ratio in Punjab, is running flop for the past few years.
Introduced in 2005 after considerable decline in the child sex ratio (in 0-to-6 age group), it has enrolled only 24 couples in Jalandhar district, so far. Three couples registered in 2005, 11 in 2006, one in 2008, two in 2009, two in 2012, and another five in 2013. Most were from villages nearby and unprivileged localities. "The state government failed to promote the scheme," an official concerned said on the condition of anonymity.
Because of the lack of public awareness, many eligible couples were yet to register under the scheme, said the official, adding that the conditions for claiming the benefit are also stringent. "The process is tedious, so couples avoid applying for the benefit," the official further said.
At the Civil Hospital here, there's no publicity sign to educate the visitors about the scheme. "The health department is trying its best to make more people aware," said district family and welfare officer Gurmeet Kaur Duggal, adding: "We hold seminars and training programmes."
Balri Rakshak Yojana puts `500 a month into the account of every girl who is a single child of non-income-tax-paying parents who opted for sterilisation after her birth. The girl gets the incentive until she is 18 or until any of the parents becomes income-tax payer.
Why it failed
Lack of promotion
Fear of permanent sterilisation