Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved inclusion of maternity benefit under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), subject to the condition that the premium is within the existing limit of Rs.750 per beneficiary.

The modification would be applicable with immediate effect and this would encourage institutional delivery among those workers living below the poverty line.

The RSBY was launched on October 1 last year for the BPL population in the unorganised sector. The scheme is being implemented by the State governments through insurance companies by inviting bids from both public and private companies. Almost all States have agreed to implement the scheme during the current year with Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Gujarat, Bihar, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu already starting enrolment and issuing smart cards. As many as 12 States have initiated the process and the remaining are likely to start implementation soon.

Until September 23, more than 3.39 lakh smart cards had been distributed covering more than 16.97 lakh people. So far, 1,458 people have availed themselves of benefits under the scheme.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs also gave its approval for continuation of the ongoing Integrated Child Development Services scheme during the XI Five-Year Plan period within the total allocation of Rs.44,400 crore. With this, the total number of anganwadi centres will also increase to 14 lakh.

Regarding the provision of serving hot cooked meals in all anganwadi centres, the government has decided to constitute a Group of Ministers which will give its recommendations after consultations with the State governments.