A. Barkat Nisha, a resident of M.G.R. Nagar Fifth Street, Karumbukkadai, is still expecting from the Coimbatore Corporation the disbursement of financial assistance under the State Government’s maternity assistance scheme.
She applied when she was four months pregnant in April this year and ought to have received the first tranche of the payment – Rs. 4,000 – in the seventh month.
She is one among the 10,514 women for whom the Coimbatore Corporation has not released the assistance under the State Government’s Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy Maternity Benefit Assistance Scheme.
Under the scheme, women from below poverty line families are eligible for Rs. 12,000 if they fulfill certain conditions.
For getting the first instalment of Rs. 4,000, women, by the seventh month, will have to undergo the following tests: blood grouping, haemoglobin, ultra sonogram and blood sugar. All these are mandatory.
This is done with the help of urban health nurses, who look out for pregnant women in the localities that fall under the jurisdiction of the particular maternity home. They are supposed to assist such women in opening a no-frills account.
The Government has said that for opening such an account, the beneficiaries need not even have a ration card; a letter from the appropriate medical officer would suffice.
After ensuring that the women have undergone the tests, the Corporation has to release the money through the treasury, which will credit the money to the beneficiaries’ bank account.
The Corporation is supposed to release the second instalment of Rs. 4,000 when the beneficiary women are delivered of the children in a government hospital/Corporation maternity home. If the women deliver the children in private clinics/hospitals they stand to lose the financial assistance.
And, the civic body is supposed to release the final payment of Rs. 4,000 when the beneficiary mothers ensure that the babies are administered pentavalent vaccine around the third month.
The Government has devised the scheme to improve institutional delivery and prevent maternal and infant mortality.
But, the Coimbatore Corporation has released the amount to only 1,652 of the targeted 12,166 women in the eight months of the current financial year. A look at the figures from some of the Corporation’s urban primary health centres suggests that a few of them have disbursed the first instalment to less than one per cent of the targeted population.
The Singanallur Urban Primary Health Centre is a case in point, where the Corporation has released the money to only 44 of the 668 women.
The unreleased money works out to over Rs. 4.20 crore.
Sources in the civic body blame the poor disbursement to problem in the computer software the State Government has installed for the purpose of entering the beneficiary data. They say that the software is not flexible enough and that there are connectivity problems as well.
Only if the data is entered, will the civic body be able to disburse the money to the beneficiaries, they add.