In the backdrop of impending elections, the Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha announced a one-time livelihood cash assistance of ₹1,000 in cash to each of the 95,90,526 families (comprising 3,35,98,401 members) covered by the Public Distribution System (PDS) in Odisha.
The government also launched the ‘Swayam’ scheme at an estimated cost of ₹448 crore to provide ₹1 lakh as interest-free bank loans to rural unemployed youths between 18-35 years (18-40 years for special category) for initiating a new business venture. They must have a family income of less than ₹2 lakh per annum, without outstanding loans from Central and State government-supported schemes. The Swayam scheme will be operational for a period of two years.
According to a government statement, there will be no collateral and processing fee for this loan, while the repayment period will be four years, including a moratorium period varying from three to six months. The interest on the loan will be borne by the State government.
With rise in the prices of essential commodities and hardships faced by PDS-supported families, the State government is also set to provide two free jute carry bags of 20 kg and 10 kg capacity each, respectively, at an estimated cost of ₹278.69 crore to the government A statement says families find it difficult to arrange carry bags of appropriate sizes at affordable prices for the collection of their PDS entitlements of foodgrains from the fair price shop. The bags are also meant for daily use.
In another important decision, the State government has expanded an existing scheme, now called KHUSI+, to distribute belted sanitary napkins for cases of institutional deliveries and medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) in government facilities. The main objective of the scheme is to increase the access to good quality sanitary napkins, create awareness on menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls, and improve personal hygiene in cases of institutional delivery and MTP to reduce incidents of maternal mortality and morbidity in the State. The earlier KHUSI scheme of 2018 involved free distribution of sanitary napkins for adolescent girls from Classes 6 to 12 in all government and government-aided schools.
According to the government, as per the National Family Heath Survey 5, in Odisha, 81.5% of women use hygienic menstrual protection, among the highest in the country, and higher than the national average of 77.3%.