The success of the Gruha Lakshmi scheme — one of the five guarantees rolled out by the Congress-led Karnataka sarkar — can be measured by the number of applications received by the government. According to the statistics shared by the government with News18, the latest tally of the number of applications is 62,01,530 within just six days of the official launch by chief minister Siddaramaiah.
The Gruha Lakshmi scheme is a financial assistance initiative for women in Karnataka, under which the women heads of households will receive an assistance of Rs 24,000 annually. A total of 1.28 crore women beneficiaries across APL and BPL families will receive a monthly allowance of Rs 2,000.
“The beneficiaries will start receiving the allowance after August 16 directly into their accounts,” Siddaramaiah said during the official launch of the scheme.
“We are getting a very good response from women, and with just a few days of the launch, we are expecting to cross more than 70 lakh beneficiaries of the total 1.28 crore women beneficiaries across the state by this week,” said a senior official from the department.
According to the numbers shared by the Women and Child Development department through different data sources like the government-run Seva Sindhu application, chatbots, Mobile One, another mobile-based application by the state government, etc, it receives between 5-10 lakh applications per day.
“We are properly vetting all the documents and ensuring that they are valid so that maximum women are benefited,” the official added.
The apps via which the Gruha Lakshmi applications are being accepted are government-run Seva Sindhu and Mobile One and a private app Step and Stone.
News18 has learnt that the maximum number of applicants prefer to use the Step and Stone (SNS) app — over four lakh a day — compared to Seva Sindhu or Mobile One.
‘Can use money for medicines and groceries’
Pushpa Subbaraju lives with her two sons and their families. Being the senior-most woman head of the family, she applied under the Gruha Lakshmi scheme. She still awaits a response despite repeated visits to the closest Bangalore One — a single-window government service. Women can use the help of the officials at Bangalore One to log in their details on the Seva Sindhu portal.
Subbaraju works as a nanny and prepares meals for the family she is employed with.
“This money will help me with my diabetes medication and I don’t have to depend on my son for it,” she told News18. “I travel by bus every day. I also save a bit of money now as the bus ride is also free. I had voted for another party, but now I am impressed with the way Siddaramaiah has kept his promise,” she added.
Shobha Vishwanath, who works in the housekeeping industry, applied for the benefit under the scheme. Though she initially faced hurdles as the Bangalore One portal faced server shutdowns or technical failures, she has now successfully registered.
“I am looking forward to the allowance as every penny counts for us. The Rs 2,000 benefit will help my family cover expenses like groceries and the school fees of my children,” she said, showing the acknowledgment on her smartphone.
However, Anjaneyamma is not as lucky. She was told that she could get her application form filled and submitted by a group of volunteers at the government primary school.
“They asked for all my documentation. I gave them my Aadhaar card, voter ID card, ration card, and a copy of my OTP which came on my phone. They charged me Rs 500 for that and till today, I have no idea where my application is. My friend who applied has got an acknowledgment but she went to a Bapuji Seva Kendra in her village,” she said.
Beware of frauds, says WCD minister
The Women and Child Development Ministry has been made aware of the fraudulent activities by touts and cybercriminals who floated fake apps to deceive the applicants and extort money.
Minister Laxmi Hebbalkar has said the strictest punishment will be meted out to those caught indulging in such fraud and criminal cases will be filed against them.
“Seeking money as a fee for registration under the Gruha Lakshmi scheme is an offence as it is a scheme to benefit people and there is no room for fraudulent behaviour. If anyone is seen being negligent towards the implementation of the scheme, they will also be pulled up,” the minister said after her department withdrew login IDs from three centers in Belgavi where there were complaints of seeking money for registration under the scheme.
Karnataka, which is seen as the IT hub of the country, had to battle with cybercriminals even before the launch of the Gruha Lakshmi scheme. In June, several fake apps on the scheme emerged on Google Play Store, which had many registering unknowingly.
The department had to conduct a special drive to convince people that the official app was to be launched and it would be through government portals.
“We sent out several requests warning people about fake apps and advising them to be cautious,” said a senior WCD official.
Earlier this month, while presenting the state budget for this fiscal year, Siddaramaiah allocated an amount of Rs 24,166 crore for the Gruha Lakshmi scheme.
“The five poll guarantees will cost the government approximately Rs 52,000 crore annually and are expected to benefit 1.3 crore families,” the Karnataka chief minister said on the floor of the assembly.
Interestingly, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, while attending the opposition parties’ meet in Bengaluru, mentioned that the success and efficient implementation of the scheme in Karnataka has now put pressure on states like hers where they are still in the process of implementing it.
The Trinamool Congress has a replica scheme in Bengal called the ‘Laxmir Bhandar’ scheme which promises a direct transfer of Rs 5,000 monthly to the female head of every household. This was also part of their election campaign during the assembly elections in Goa.