Expectant mothers are likely to benefit from an over five-fold increase in maternity funds in 2017-18, government sources have said.
As part of the Centre’s efforts to combat India’s high malnutrition rate, a substantial sum could also be set aside to ensure that children under six have access to nutritious food under the Integrated Child Development Scheme – one of the oldest child nutrition programmes in the world, running since 1975.
Sources said the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY), the Centre’s key maternity benefit programme targeted at pregnant and lactating mothers, is expected to get an over five-fold jump – from Rs 400 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 21,000 crore in the new fiscal.
The boost to the maternity entitlement scheme follows an announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 31 that Rs 6,000 crore would be transferred to the bank accounts of pregnant women across 650 districts of India.
In 2010, the women and child development (WCD) ministry launched the IGMSY in 52 districts to ensure that would-be mothers above the age of 19 get healthy and nutritious food. While an initial maternity entitlement of Rs 4,000 was transferred to their accounts, it was increased to Rs 6,000 in 2013.
Funds for the Integrated Child Development Scheme – the ministry’s supplementary nutrition programme for children under six – is also expected to be hiked from Rs 14,545 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 15,245 crore in 2017-18. This amounts to a 4.8% hike over the previous year.
Overall, the WCD ministry is likely to benefit from a 26% hike in funds allocation. It may get around Rs 22,000 crore in the new fiscal, as compared to Rs 17,408 in 2016-17.