Gujarat Global News Network, Gandhinagar
Despite tall claims of Narendra Modi's government every third child in Gujarat is underweight, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
In its performance audit of the implementation of the Centre's Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) in the state the CAG found that highest malnourishment was noticed in children between 0-3 years.
The CAG found shocking facts. The scheme of providing supplementary nutrition to malnourished children also failed to reach 63 percent beneficiaries. The CAG's audit revealed that of the 223 lakh children (6 months-3 years), pregnant women and lactating mothers enrolled under the Supplementary Nutrition Programme in Gujarat, 63 lakh beneficiaries were left out.
CAG also listed several reasons for the "static and high under nutrition" prevailing in the state. "The government focused more on nutritional status of children in the age group of 3-5 years, whereas the highest malnourishment was noticed in children between 0-3 years," the report read.
"The government focused only on weighing and recording, but not on counselling and intervention under the Nutrition and Health Education Programme under ICDS," it added.
The scheme of providing supplementary nutrition to malnourished children also failed to reach 63 per cent beneficiaries. "As per the prescribed norms, each identified malnourished child was to get 800 calories and 20-25 gram of protein per day. The scrutiny of records of eight selected districts revealed that despite 69,400 beneficiaries identified as malnourished during March 2008-12, the Anganwadi centres in Gujarat provided only 500 calories and 12-15 grams of protein only to 25,600 beneficiaries," the report added.
The Anganwadis that are the focal point of delivery of services under the ICDS Scheme (to promote holistic development of children, expectant and lactating mothers and adolescent girls) were found to be operating in cattle-sheds, under trees and in open space at several places in Gujarat.
The auditor also found that against the requirement of 75,480 Anganwadi centres in Gujarat, only 52,137 were sanctioned and 50,225 were operational. "Thus a population of 1.87 crore was deprived of the benefits of ICDS," states the report.
In eight districts test-checked by the CAG, basic amenities, like building, safe drinking water and toilets, were not available in 9-40 per cent of the Anganwadis in Gujarat.
Instances of supply of sub-standard food was also noticed in the Anganwadis. Cases of expired flour, worms and insects being found in food and ingredients were also noticed by the auditor. "Though the Government of India directed (November 2008) the state government to submit proposal for additional projects based on revised population criteria, no proposal was forwarded," it added.
For news in Hindi see our news daily Chaupal Chronicle