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Statement on child-related schemes for the first time

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Saying it with colours: Women in Patna celebrate the good deal announced for them in the budget.
Saying it with colours: Women in Patna celebrate the good deal announced for them in the budget.

Special Correspondent

Rs.33,434 crore allocated for such schemes; pay hike for anganwadi workers and helpers under ICDS

NEW DELHI: In a first in budget proposals, Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram included a statement on child-related schemes in the 2008-09 document. The total expenditure on them is Rs.33,434 crore.

He said the government proposed to allocate Rs.7,200 crore in 2008-09 to the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, a 24 per cent increase over the 2007-08 allocation.

Benefiting over 18 lakh anganwadi workers and helpers under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), their monthly remuneration would be increased from Rs.1,000 to 1,500 and from Rs.500 to 750 respectively. With universalisation of the ICDS under way, the government proposed to enhance the allocation for it from Rs.5,293 crore in 2007-08 to Rs.6,300 crore in the coming financial year.

At the end of December last, 5,959 ICDS projects and 9,32,000 anganwadi and mini-anganwadi centres were functional in the country. The number of beneficiaries increased to 629 lakh children and 132 lakh pregnant and lactating mothers.

Admitting that policymakers often tended to forget that women accounted for half of the population and they were entitled to an equal share in all programmes and schemes, Mr. Chidambaram said gender budgeting gained wider acceptance and credibility. Four more Ministries and departments set up gender budgeting cells, taking their total to 54.

According to a statement, covering 33 demands for grants contributed by 27 ministries/departments and five Union Territories, enclosed in the budget document, Rs.11,460 crore has been provided for 100 per cent women-specific schemes and Rs.16,202 crore for schemes in which at least 30 per cent is for women-specific programmes.

Self-help groups

The Centre will also ask the Life Insurance Corporation to rapidly scale up the Janashree Bima Yojana, which offers life and permanent disability cover to people in 44 categories including self-help groups (SHGs). However, only 35,000 SHGs have been covered so far.

Considering that over 30 lakh SHGs are credit-linked to banks, the Centre proposes to contribute Rs. 500 crore to the corpus of the fund to cover all credit-linked SHGs under the scheme. Annual contributions will be made as the scheme is scaled up. Fifty per cent fund for the scheme is subsidised through the Social Security Fund.

The scheme, together with the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, would mark the beginning of a new deal for women by providing them life and health cover, the Minister said.

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