In a major change, the Madhya Pradesh government has decided to pay Rs 50,000 support under the Mukhyamantri Kanya Vivah/Nikah Yojana – the flagship marriage support scheme for women – directly to the beneficiaries through bank transfer.
The announcement regarding the key change in the scheme was made by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan at a government event held in Burhanpur district on Friday. Later in the day, he gave the details of the change – payment of Rs 50,000 as a direct benefit transfer – in another event in Khargone district.
Earlier, beneficiaries got Rs 11,000 cheque and Rs 38,000 worth of household items/jewellery under the flagship scheme launched in 2006 and upgraded in 2022. Rs 6,000 per beneficiary was given to organizers of the mass marriage ceremonies under the scheme, taking the total support amount to Rs 55,000.
The CM said that the Rs 6,000 to organizers will be retained under the new system, so there seems to be an effective increase of Rs 1,000 per beneficiary under the scheme taking the total support amount to Rs 56,000.
The chief minister conceded at Burhanpur that the change is being made due to complaints that poor-quality items were given to beneficiaries of the scheme. “There have been problems regarding the items provided. There are allegations about the quality of the items, which might be correct or false. So we have decided to give the money directly to the daughters so that they could purchase items as per their wish.” In Khargone, he said that “such sinners come in the middle (of implementation of the scheme), siphon off the money (meant for purchase of items), therefore we have decided to give the amount directly to the daughters.”
During recent weeks, there have been several instances where the quality of items provided under the scheme to newly married women was under question. Tribal welfare minister Meena Singh had berated officials in her constituency in Umaria district after finding that fake jewellery was given to the beneficiaries in place of silver jewellery. She had asked the district collector to pay cash amounts to the affected beneficiaries as compensation.
The issue of poor quality of the items was also taken up in the State Assembly on March 13 with ex-minister from Congress, Vijaylaxmi Sadho alleging that poor quality items were rampantly distributed to beneficiaries and that she herself had checked such allegations and found them to be true. Following a debate in the house, the government had announced that a high-level probe will be instituted into the matter. However, the announcement by the CM on Friday did away with the entire system of purchase of items for the beneficiaries.
Political watchers felt that the change in the scheme is also aimed at political benefit for the ruling party as it will ensure handing over of more cash support to women beneficiaries. The BJP government recently launched the Ladli Behna scheme, wherein, Rs 1,000 of cash support will be given to married women who fulfil certain eligibility criteria.
Social activists have always opposed the direct benefit transfer (DBT) system, alleging that in many cases, the support amount does not directly benefit the intended beneficiary, but is used by others in the family. Schemes like nutrition support to tribal women and Ladli Behna fall under DBT system and now the Kanya Vivah/Nikah scheme has also been converted into a similar scheme.
Rs 330 crores transferred to students
Meanwhile, at the Burhanpur event, the chief minister transferred Rs 330 crore worth post-matric scholarships to 2.90 lakh students and also inaugurated/laid foundation stones of developmental works worth Rs 77 crore. He also distributed artificial limbs and laptops to meritorious specially-abled students.
He also announced that the Shahpur Municipal Council building will be named after the late Nand Kumar Chauhan, ex-president of state BJP. The CM also unveiled a statue of Chauhan on the occasion.
In Khargone, where ‘PESA’ and ‘Ladli Behna’ awareness programme was organised, the CM inaugurated/laid foundation stones of developmental works worth Rs 250 crore.