While Fatehgarh Sahib qualified to be among the scheme’s first 20 beneficiary districts owing to high enrollment for unique identification cards, its selection was also high on symbolism. The 2001 census showed Fatehgarh Sahib had the worst child sex ratio of 766, and Sirhind block had the largest number of missing daughters. The child sex ratio improved to 843 in 2011, but remains far below the national average.
“The selection of Sirhind as the country’s first block to roll out direct cash transfer scheme under Dhanalakshmi scheme is symbolic as it was one of the worst sex-ratio blocks in the country in 2001. On January 1, we credited cash to the bank accounts of 5,900 beneficiaries. By the end of this week, we intend to take the total to more than 8,000 beneficiaries,” deputy commissioner of Fatehgarh Sahib, Yashvir Mahajan, said.
The district which saw an explosion of ultrasound clinics through the 1990s, advertising ‘Spend Rs 500 (on a sex determination test) now, save Rs 5 lakh (expenditure on a girl child) later’, is now scouting for mothers of newborn daughters and girls studying up to class VIII to enroll them for Aadhar.
Until that process is complete, the district administration will make cash transfers through the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system.
“We are encountering problems in making the payment through Aadhar as many of the beneficiaries have not yet enrolled for the unique ID, and many do not have bank accounts. We are now enrolling targeted beneficiaries on priority and asking them to open bank accounts. We are now clearing the list of beneficiaries from 2009, the year of scheme’s launch, to March 2012. Those belonging to 2012-13 are yet to be covered,” Mahajan said.
Director, social welfare, Gurkirat Singh, said “We are clearing applications based on the length of their pendency. There is also a lack of awareness among beneficiaries on the benefits of UID.”
The Dhanalakshmi scheme covers girl children from the registration of birth to class VIII. The mother of the daughter is given Rs 5,000 during registration of birth, Rs 1,250 to encourage immunisation up to two years, and Rs 1,500 when she is admitted to class I. Between the ages of two and five, the child receives Rs 500 annually until she completes class V. She is entitled to Rs 2,250 after completing class VI, and for classes VII and VIII, she is given Rs 750 each.
If the girl is not married until the age of 21 and if she continues her education, she is entitled to Rs 1 lakh from the Life Insurance Corporation of India and the government.