PIL filed for expanding Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana in tea estates of Assam's Sonitpur district
Case title: Sauradeep Dey Vs. The Union of India & 4 Others; PIL No……..; Gauhati High Court
Synopsis: The Government of India had enacted the National Food Security Act in 2013. The Act received the assent of the President of India on the 10th day of September 2013 and is deemed to have come into force on the 5th day of July 2013. As per Section 4(a) of the Act, pregnant women and lactating mothers are entitled to free meals in the form of take- home-ration so as to meet the daily nutritional standard of 600 Kcal of calories and 18-20g of protein. This supplementary nutrition is provided under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) through the Anganwadi centers.
Also as per Section 4(b) of the Act pregnant women and lactating mothers are entitled to maternity benefits of not less than Rupees Six Thousand. This provision of the National Food Security Act, 2013, is being implemented through the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) scheme, which was initially introduced in 2010 as a pilot project covering 53 districts of the country.
It then provided maternity benefits of Rs. 4000 in three installments but after the enactment of the National Food Security Act. 2013, the maternity benefit under the scheme was revised from Rs. 4000/-to Rs. 6000/- w.e.f. 5th July 2013. The Ministry of Women and Child Development issued a circular dated 13-11-2013 in connection with the universalization of the IGMSY. The Annual Report of 2014-15 of the Ministry of Women and Child Development also proposed the expansion of the IGMSY to cover all districts of the country by 2017.
The petitioner conducted a fact-finding in three tea gardens of Sonitpur, viz. Dhullie Tea Estate, Manobag Tea Estate and Monmohinipur Tea Estate and interviewed 53 women from these places who were either pregnant or had delivered in recent times or recent years. It was discovered that all the women whose hemoglobin level was recorded are anemic and all interviewed women have poor nutritional habits, living under extremely poor economic conditions.
Also, there was no uniformity or adequacy in the provision of food grains through the Anganwadi centers to women in the tea estates and maternity benefits of Rupees Six Thousand were not provided to the women.
There are several reports cited in the petition that mirror the drastic effects of anemia on women, especially those who are pregnant and lactating, and also on children and neonates. The women in the tea gardens continue to struggle with their health amidst financial difficulties, and there is no help from the Government to address their tragedy.
In the light of the above, the petitioner is filing the current writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India in public interest for the expansion of the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) in tea garden areas of Sonitpur district in Assam. IGMSY is the scheme under which Section 4(b) of the National Food Security Act, 2013, is being implemented.
Also, the petitioner prays for the determination of a fixed quantity of food grains that is to be disbursed to pregnant women and lactating mothers under Section 4(a) of the National Food Security Act, 2013.
Status: Has not come up for hearing till date.
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