The curious case of IANS RTI and how the numbers claimed differ wildly from official govt data

According to a reply to an RTI filed by news agency IANS, as per an NDTV report, no money has been spent on beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) in Uttar Pradesh despite the central government having allocated over three hundred crores of rupees to the state in the financial year 2017-18.

The NDTV report states, “Not a rupee of government money has been spent on pregnant and lactating women enrolled under the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-hyped maternity benefit scheme till August 2018 in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), which happens to have India’s highest fertility rate, an RTI query has revealed.”

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It further states, “According to the reply by the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry, only 184 women have enrolled in UP for the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) since its inception in January 2017 up to August 2018 — out of 44 lakh women enrolled across the country in 717 districts.”

A Financial Express report makes similar claims about Uttar Pradesh. It states, “However, as per an RTI reply to IANS by the ministry, the number of women enrolled under the scheme till August 27 stood only 184 and beneficiaries paid was nil.”

This is in stark contrast with the data provided by the Ministry of Women and Child Development which ranked Uttar Pradesh as the best-performing state with over 8 lakh beneficiaries enrolled and over 5 lakh paid till date with a total of Rs. 188.80 crore spent on the scheme.

There appears to be some confusion regarding the contradiction between the official data provided by the government and the alleged reply by the Ministry to the RTI filed by IANS. It could be that the Ministry committed a mistake in its reply to the RTI, which would reflect gross incompetence and negligence on the part of the authorities involved; or it could be that the IANS committed an error in its report, as it did recently for which it issued an apology. Regardless, the Ministry should issue a clarification on the matter.

The scheme provides partial monetary compensation to women for the wage loss during childbirth and child care and provides conditions for safe delivery and proper nutrition practices.

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