Insufficient funds for its execution for last seven years
Representation made to the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister to increase allocation Many women are not aware of the scheme
SHIMOGA: The National Family Benefit Scheme was introduced by the Central Government in 1994 to help poor women who had lost their spouses for their sustenance. However, it seems to have been given a go bye, as the State Governments have not received any funds for its execution for the last seven years.
The last sanction made by the Centre was during 2005-2006 when it released additional assistance of Rs. 39.82 crore for a period from April to December 2005. Out of this amount Rs. 1 crore was released under the National Family Benefit Programme with the instruction that the remaining fund be utilised only for the National Old Age Pension Scheme.
This followed reports from the Deputy Commissioners that there are numerous cases under the National Family Benefit Programme pending for want of funds for the last three years. The Government then decided to release Rs.1 crore.
However the Janata Dal (S) and the BJP Coalition Government in the State offered to revive the scheme under the National Social Assistance Programme by making a budgetary allocation of Rs. 28 crore in 2006 of which it has released Rs. 17 crore so far. It has made it an on going scheme.
The Government released Rs. 9 crore in May 2006 to the respective chairmen of the district-level committees on the National Social Assistance Programme headed by the Deputy Commissioners. However the Deputy Commissioners sought more grants as there were number of pending cases. The Government then decided to release an amount of Rs. 7 crore.
The Government has requested the Deputy Commissioners to ensure that a committee and other officials concerned verify each of the applications received. Though the Government has asked the Deputy Commissioners to give adequate publicity for this scheme, many of the deserving widows are not aware of it. There are also reports of the women being exploited by the middlemen.
Women who had lost their spouses with an annual income of less than Rs. 11,500 and no children above 18 years are eligible to get benefit under the scheme.
Managing trustee of the Shantaveri Gopalagowda Samajawadi Adhyayana Kendra Trust Kallur Megharaj, who has been leading a movement for the effective execution of the National Family Benefit Programme, has made a representation to the Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and the Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa to increase the allocation in the next budget to cover the remaining 51,666 poor women who had lost their spouses under the scheme.