In Bihar, 65-yr-old had 8 kids in 18 months in govt records
Leela Devi (65), a resident of Chhoti Kothia village in Musahari block of Muzaffarpur district, last gave birth to a boy 21 years ago, her fourth child. She is one of the many beneficiaries of National Maternity Benefit Schemes (NMBS) under the National Health Mission (NHM) in the district.
NMBS is a scheme to boost institutional delivery of babies. Under the scheme, Rs 1,400 is given to the mother, while Rs 600 is paid to ASHA worker for assistance. Leela, however, is surprised. Her husband, a small farmer, is too. Documents in HT possession show Leela has given birth to babies eight times in the last 18 months.
“My last baby is a boy and was born 21 years ago. I came to know I had been included as a beneficiary and money had been given to me nearly a week ago. When I approached the operator of a CSP (customer service point) centre, where my account is, I was asked by the operator not to lodge a case and that they will return the money withdrawn in my name,” she says.
Leela is not the lone elderly woman to have “benefited” under the scheme. Money has been deposited into and withdrawn from the accounts of more than 50 women fraudulently in the district.
Another woman, Shanti Devi (66), has been shown having given birth to two babies the same day, within an interval of 10 hours, despite the fact the babies are not twins. Sabina Khatoon (59) of the same village also has been shown as a beneficiary of the scheme.
After the embezzlement came to light, district magistrate Chandrashekhar Singh on Thursday ordered a probe.
When approached for comment, Charanjit Kumar, branch manager of State Bank of India’s branch at Musahari the CSP center is attached with, feigned ignorance. “I don’t know how the CSP operator has managed all this even after the transaction system has been attached with finger print enabled system and Aadhaar identification. He can tell more about this,” he said.
The CSP operator, Sushil Kumar, has gone into hiding soon after the matter came to the light.
The DM could not be contacted despite repeated calls and messages.
Civil surgeon and chief medical officer (CMO) Dr Shailesh Prasad Singh termed it a very serious matter. “I, along with some of my subordinates, met the DM and discussed the matter. He expressed his concern over the entire episode and asked me to set up an inquiry committee, led by a senior doctor and account experts,” he said.
Senior gynecologist Dr Indu Kumari said, “No woman can give birth to baby after menopause.”
However, superintendent of Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, Dr Sunil Kumar Shahi, said woman older than 50 years giving birth to a baby cannot be ruled out altogether. “It has been seen that some elderly woman have given birth. But these are rare cases,” he said.
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