A recent protest against the 12% GST on sanitary pads. Pic/AFP
In a relief for schoolgirls across the state, the Maharashtra government has decided to make a pack of eight sanitary napkins available to them for just Rs 5. Women and Child Welfare Minister Pankaja Munde made the announcement on Tuesday and said the napkins would be provided under the scheme Asmita Yojana, which will be launched on August 15.
According to Munde, most poor families cannot afford the napkins, as a pack costs a minimum of Rs 40."We will engage women from local self-help groups to distribute sanitary napkins in schools and at spots closer to the places where schoolgirls stay," Munde said.
However, it is still not clear whether the government will procure napkins from the market and then offer them to students at subsidised rates, or get some domestic units to make them at cheaper rates.
Activist Chhaya Kakde, who was on a fast in protest against the inclusion of sanitary napkins under the goods and services tax (GST) bracket, withdrew it after the government's announcement. Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar told Kakde that the government would not levy GST on the napkins that are made by self-help groups. He also mentioned that pads would be made available for sale at public distribution shops and schools as well.