Nutritional stock rotting at many centers, not available at others
SRINAGAR: The Anganwadi centres in Kashmir are running dry since last ten months due to non-availability of nutritional stock as Government of India has directed the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), to get Social Welfare Village Level Councils (SWVLCs) constituted in order to get fresh supply. The ICDS manages the anganwadi centers.
SWVLCs, an 8 to 15 member body with a leader, will be constituted in every revenue village or ward and will be entrusted with the responsibilities of making purchases and distribution of nutritional stock. They will also supervise the quality of food being provided to the community children in that particular area centres.
Officials within ICDS say that the supply of nutritional stock was stopped since October last year following GoI directions for constituting SWVLCs in every village and mohalla in Jammu & Kashmir and since then the process of purchasing and distribution of nutritional stock was suspended till the required councils were constituted.
While the directions were taken up and accordingly the process for constituting these councils was initiated by ICDS, the process is, however, nowhere to complete even though the deadline of July 31, set by GoI, has already expired.
“The department thought they will finish the task (of constituting councils) much before the stipulated time but the ground situation taught us something else. As the members of SWVLCs won’t be paid anything by the government for their service, it is very difficult to motivate locals to be part of this council,” say the ICDS officials.
They say that the fear that people might call them “agents of government” is too keeping people who want to do social service, away from participating in these councils.
Till July 31st, department had constituted 165 councils in Budgam, 322 in Baramulla, 112 in Kulgam, 142 in Kupwara, 125 in Leh and 34 councils in summer capital Srinagar. Insiders, however, put the figures less than the required number.
“We have 15,343 of total Anganwadi centres operational in Valley and constitution of some 900 centres is far less than the required number. There are five districts where the process has just started and we are not exactly sure how much time it will take,” they said.
Besides these numbers, J&K government has also sanctioned over 3,300 additional Anganwadi centres in the state which are being made operational by the department. The state cabinet accorded sanction to the setting up of 3,361 additional anganwadi centers or anganwadi-on-demand under Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) on adhoc basis.
While the stock was suspended since October across Valley, the officials say that the centres in Pulwama and Shopain are running dry even for more time because no tendering process for purchasing the nutritional stock was carried out by the department.
As per the reports, Government is providing funds to the tune of over Rs 100 crore every year to the department for purchasing food and nutrition items for the poor children in the age group of 3 to 6 years in nearly 30,000 anganwadi centres under ICDS across J&K.
In Jammu also, the story is no different. Around 14,500 anganwadi centres in Jammu Division have also gone dry as the nutrition supplies to these centres, just like Kashmir, was stopped by the department.
Recently, the supply of over 35,000 kilograms of pulses, 17,280 kilograms of Semolina, Dalia and 3,448 kilograms of skimmed milk were recently found rotting in a rodent-infested, stinking tin-shed at Zaldagar area of Srinagar.
Dozens of gunny bags, carrying the nutrition stock, were found torn down by rats and a huge amount of food lay scattered on the floor of the dilapidated shed with almost zero ventilation. In another nearby godown, 12,915 litres of edible oil meant for the centres were also rotting instead.
This stock worth Rs 35.76 lakhs (barring the oil), was the current financial year’s supplementary nutrition for at least 12,000 kids enrolled in 422 different Anganwari centres.
Joint director, ICDS, Ashiq Hussain Lily told Kashmir Reader that the new system was brought to enhance public participation in implementation of welfare schemes.
Claiming that the supply was halted due to non-procurement of nutritional stock by the department at “few” places, he said stock is being supplied to centres wherever necessary.
“We are almost done with more than 70 percent of work (in constituting councils) and the remaining will be done within next month. Stock is now being supplied to centres now,” he claimed. When cited few places where centres are running dry, he said, he is not aware about it and will look into the matter.