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WCD Ministry gets Rs 24,700 cr, nutrition scheme main focus

The government on Thursday announced the 'world's largest' health insurance scheme for India's 50 crore poor in its last full budget before general elections.

New Delhi: In the 2018-19 Union Budget presented on Thursday, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has been allocated Rs 24,700 crore, a hike of almost 12 per cent - or Rs 2,606 crore -- from the previous budget.

However, in the year 2017-18, the total capex for the WCD Ministry was pegged at Rs 22,094 crore and Rs 21,236 crore was allocated.

A major chunk in this year's budget, presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, has been earmarked for the ICDS programmes under which the National Nutrition Mission has got an increase of revenue from Rs 950 crore to Rs 3,000 crore.

Mahila Shakti Kendra under Protection and Empowerment for Women has been allocated Rs 267 crore from Rs 64 crore last fiscal, while Rs 500 crore has been provided for transfer to the Nirbhaya Fund.

Other schemes like the Child Protection Services, National Creche Scheme, Swadhar Greh Scheme, Ujjawala scheme, Anganwadi Services, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Working Women Hostel and Information and Mass Communication have been allocated more funds than before.

Jaitley said the government aims to provide eight crore Ujjawala gas connections against five crore provided so far.

"The Pradhanmantri Saubhagya Yojna, which provides free electricity to rural households, has been given an ambitious target of Rs 4 crore household which have direct impact on the living conditions of women and children."

The Finance Minister said the loans to women self-help group are expected to increase to Rs 75,000 crore by the end of 2018-19 from Rs 42,500 crore at the end of 2017-18.

He added that 76 percent of the Mudra Loans have gone to women micro-entrepreneurs and 1.26 crore girls have benefited through Sukanya Samridhi Yojna accounts.

Union Minister for WCD Maneka Gandhi said: "Increased allocation will help the Ministry fight malnutrition and provide safety to women and girls through expansion of various ongoing schemes."