The state’s dismal sex ratio will be the focus of the government’s new initiative. The ambitious scheme called Mazi Kanya Bhagyashri will not just offer monetary incentives for girls until they turn 18, it will also support grandparents and villages, who are not opposed to their birth.
The state plans to spend Rs4,300 crore over the next 18 years to implement this scheme. It is an extension of the Sukanya programme launched by the Congress-NCP government two years ago and only 65 lakh families below the poverty line will be eligible for it.
The scheme, which is expected to be launched in the next few weeks, will provide financial aid for the girls until they turn 18. Parents who opt for family planning surgery after the birth of the first or the second girl, will get an annual monetary allowance ranging between Rs2,000 and Rs3,000. The girls will also get Rs1 lakh the day they turn 18. “The scheme will prove to be major boost to our continuous efforts to improve the sex ratio. It’s a comprehensive scheme, which has the potential to build confidence that a girl child can also carry forward the family lineage. It will be launched once it is approved by the cabinet,” said women and child welfare minister Pankaja Munde.
According to the draft, which was discussed during a meeting chaired by chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya on Saturday, the grandparents of the girl child will be gifted a gold coin worth Rs5,000 and the villages that attain an equal sex ratio will be awarded Rs5 lakh. “Generally, grandparents insist on a male child even if the parents disagree. The gold coins will help the parents garner support in limiting families after the birth of girls. The incentive for the villages is meant to encourage collective support for the girl child,” said an official from the women and child welfare department.
“We divided the financial allowances for the girls into two categories. Under the first category, the parents opting for the family planning surgery after the birth of the first girl will be entitled for Rs5,000 as a token of appreciation. If they opt for surgery after the birth of a second girl, they are entitled to half the amount. Girls until the age of 5 will be entitled to Rs2,000, which has to be used to buy nutritious food. This will increase to Rs2,500 and Rs3,000 for girls aged 6 and 12 respectively,” said the official.
“Under Sukanya, the government used to deposit an amount of Rs21,200 in a life insurance scheme, offering the lump sum of Rs1 lakh once the girls turn 18. Our scheme goes a step ahead by offering annual assistance to buy food for the girls,” the official said. The department has secured 20,500 girls in a year under Sukanya.