Tamil Nadu widows pin their hopes on new government scheme to be launched in September

Expected to be launched in September, the Kalaignar Magalir Urimai Thittam would provide eligible women ₹1,000 every month.

ByLaasya Shekhar

Published Jul 25, 2023 | 3:47 PMUpdatedJul 25, 2023 | 4:49 PM

The Tamil Nadu women's rights grant scheme registrations began across the state on Monday, 24 July. (Laasya Shekhar/South First)

When 40-year-old J Andal submitted her Aadhaar number, ration card number, electricity bill number, and bank details to the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) volunteers at a camp organised in the Guindy neighbourhood of the capital city of Tamil Nadu, she was one of the numerous widows who were reposing their faith in a state government scheme.

This comes after many of them said they found their names struck off the rolls of the beneficiaries of a state scheme meant specifically for widows, last year.

Kalaignar Magalir Urimai Thittam

To be launched in September, the new women’s rights grant scheme — the Kalaignar Magalir Urimai Thittam  — would provide all women, with a family income less than 2.5 lakh per annum, with ₹1,000 every month.

The scheme is expected to have more than one crore beneficiaries — and widows like Andal are especially hopeful because of it.

According to the GCC, 56,542 women registered for the scheme on Monday, 24 July. Phase 1 of the registrations will end on 4 August. A second phase will be held from 5 August till 16 August.

Across the state, camps were organised to facilitate the receipt of applications for the scheme that provides eligible women a basic monthly income of ₹1,000.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin inaugurated one such camp in the Dharmapuri district. There are 1,727 camps in the first phase in Chennai.

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Women without welfare schemes

Tamil Nadu women's pension scheme: Andal J of Chennai. (Supplied)

Andal J of Chennai. (Laasya Shekhar/South First)

Since last year, Andal has not been receiving the ₹1,000 every month under the widow pension scheme as the Tamil Nadu government cancelled this pension for those who had two gas cylinders.

What rankled her more was the fact that last week, the Tamil Nadu government increased the pension amount to ₹1,200.

“I work as a domestic help and earn less than ₹3,000 a month. I have two gas cylinders. My mother helped me get an extra cylinder. Does that mean I am rich?” she asked.

“I gave up a gas cylinder connection and have been visiting the pension scheme office at Ekkaduthangal since then, asking them to give me the pension. But, in vain,” Andal told South First.

On 24 July, she filled in a form, procured from a fair price shop, with the help of her neighbour, and submitted her documents at the camp, hoping that she could at least get ₹1,000 under the new flagship scheme.

“I can buy vegetables and rice with this money. My debt would be less,” said Andal, hopeful as she completed the registration process.

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Many dropped from list

Masthanamma of Chennai. (Supplied)

Masthanamma of Chennai. (Laasya Shekhar/South First)

Widows and elderly women, whose pensions were cancelled last year, formed the majority of the applicants that visited camps in Guindy and Maduvankarai in Chennai.

Masthanamma M, an 80-year-old widow, fought back tears when she said that the DMK government no longer provided her with a pension.

“After the government removed my name from the pension list, I could no longer afford medicines,” she said, hopeful that she would get ₹1,000 under the new women’s rights grant scheme.

Six out of 15 widows South First spoke to from the two camps shared similar tales as Andal and Masthanamma.

The scheme is expected to be launched on 15 September, the birth anniversary of former Tamil Nadu chief minister CN Annadurai, a Dravidian icon who also founded the DMK.

Also Read: Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin launches seven new projects

Eligibility criteria

Though the eligibility criteria does not mention anything about two gas cylinders, GCC officials, on the condition of anonymity, said that beneficiaries who were excluded in the social welfare schemes last year would be excluded in this scheme as well.

South First has reached out to K Elambahavath, the nodal officer for the scheme, for a comment.

Meanwhile, GCC volunteers at the registration desk said that there was a good proportion of widows trying to avail the new scheme.

“Applicants whose names were cancelled in the social welfare schemes will not be the beneficiaries of the women’s rights grant scheme. However, we are completing the registration process for everyone. Let the higher officials take a decision during the verification,” said P Arivalagan, a GCC volunteer.

“Of the 50 women I registered for the scheme today, 30 were widows. At least 10 of them told me that they had not been receiving pensions for the past year,” said a GCC volunteer, on condition of anonymity.

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