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Posted at: May 17, 2018, 12:01 AM; last updated: May 17, 2018, 12:01 AM (IST)

Menstrual hygiene caught in red tape

Five months gone, will end of summer break bring good tidings?

Geetanjali Gayatri

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 16

Free sanitary napkins to government schoolgirls, adolescent girls and below poverty line (BPL) and above poverty line (APL) women, to be provided free of cost or at nominal charge, does not seem to have gone beyond Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s lip service.

Five months after he announced the adoption of Miss World Manushi Chhillar’s pet project, menstrual hygiene seems caught in red tape. Various government departments involved with the project still seem at sea about the blueprint for distribution of napkins and are sorting out their own issues on modalities.

Though the Health Department was made the nodal department for the entire exercise, sources said it was decided that each department would handle its beneficiaries independently at a meeting held earlier this week.

Consequently, the scheme, that was to start towards the end of the recently concluded academic session of government schools, had not taken off even in the new academic session.

The sources said while the National Health Mission (NHM) under the Health Department would take care of BPL and APL women and provide them free and nominally priced napkins, the School Education Department would take responsibility of providing sanitary napkins to schoolgirls.

The NHM, running a Centrally-sponsored scheme to provide napkins to adolescent girls, would resume the same after it was discontinued due to procurement issues.

The sources said this “to each his own” decision had been taken keeping in view budget provision for free sanitary napkins under the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ programme. The sources said the Women and Child Department would also be involved in the exercise.

According to information available, officers of the School Education Department, after being asked to cater to girl students, would now apply their mind to framing the plan, which might see the light of day after the summer vacation.

The NHM, which had initially prepared a plan, had been asked to redo the exercise in the light of certain observations by the higher authorities.

The net result of five months since the announcement was that the departments were back to where they began. Schoolgirls were still awaiting sanitary napkins and BPL and APL women were looking forward to improved menstrual hygiene.

While they hoped for results, the files had been going back and forth in government offices because approvals were taking time.

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