The Tamil Nadu State budget presented on Friday (February 14) by Deputy Chief Minister and State Finance Minister O Panneerselvam has proposed an outlay of ₹78,796.12 crore in 2020-21 towards women.
The special outlay which was first launched in 2018 has been continued in the budget. The state budget has placed emphasis on the needs of women’s safety, with a new initiative like CCTV cameras being fitted in all buses at an estimated cost of ₹75.02 crore allotted under the Nirbhaya Fund.
In another effort made to boost the safety of women, the Tamil Nadu Working Women’s Hostel Corporation Limited which has been formed as a Special Purpose Vehicle to establish and manage working women hostels. As many as 13 locations have been identified with eight in Chennai and one each at Krishnagiri, Tiruchy, Hosur, Kancheepuram and Namakkal for such hostels.
The Amma Two Wheeler Scheme will continue to be implemented during 2020-21 with a provision of ₹253.14 crore.
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The health outlay has continued to factor in the welfare of pregnant women, with a sum of ₹959.21 crore that has been provided for the implementation of Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy Maternity Benefit Scheme.
Demand for a separate ministry
The gender budget is in line with a long-standing demand for a separate ministry for women, apart from children. A few months ago, Thamimun Ansari, TN MLA, founder of Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi had placed a similar proposal in the Tamil Nadu State Assembly, citing increasing cases of crime against women and children.
Activists have pointed out there are a number of departments looking into areas that concern both women and children, and a separate ministry would bring about convergence.
They add that though there are a number of landmark schemes under operation be it Mahalir Thittam (socio-economic empowerment programme) or the Thalikku Thangam Thittam (gold for marriage scheme), there are issues that are not attended to due to the lacunae in the system.
Prasanna Gettu, the founder of The International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care (PCVC), said, “There are a number of Central Government schemes that cover their issues through specific allocations like the Nirbhaya Funds and the helpline 181. A state- centred ministry outside the social welfare department can make implementation effective.”