Srinagar: Since last more than eight months, the officials of Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) are working to establish Social Welfare Village Level Councils (SWVLCs) that will act as an umbrella body for a group of Aaganwadi centres for purchasing and distribution of nutritional stock in a village. For the period, majority of Aanganwadi centres are running dry of nutritional supply in Srinagar and elsewhere in Kashmir.
Sources within the department told Kashmir Reader that since January this year when Social Welfare Department received an order from Government of India to constitute SWVLCs, the nutritional supply was withheld till all the villages are covered under councils.
“Back then, officials (of ICDS) believed that the task of constituting councils will take just few weeks or less than two months, but it proved to be a hectic job for the officials. After more than eight months, the process is still on and might take few more months to complete,” said the official.
In Shopian and Pulwama districts, official says, the supply has been stopped since 2016 as no purchasing was done by the district development commissioners. “Nobody in the department knows exactly why not nutritional stock was supplied to the districts, neither was anyone interested here to check for the reasons,” he says.
Ghulam Rasool, a senior citizen from Habbak says that since last more than ten months their local anganwadi centre has not received any supply and similar concerns were echoed by locals of several areas of Foreshore side, ruing the “careless approach” of officials. “We were initially told to collect account numbers of children receiving nutritional essentials and later, we heard that the department is constituting SWVLCs for the anganwadi centres. But what concerns us is that the supply was stopped,” said Ali Mohammad, a local from Tailbal area of Srinagar.
The SWVLC, an 8 to 15- member body with one of them heading it, will be constituted in every revenue village or ward and will be entrusted with the responsibilities of making purchases and distribution of nutritional stock besides, they will also supervise the quality of food being provided to the community children in that particular area centres.
Director ICDS, GA Sofi told Kashmir Reader that around 60 percent of work regarding constitution of councils has been completed and rest will be finished in next one month. “Around 2000 councils have been established so far in Valley and more 1300 are needed to be established in Kashmir,” he says. Anantnag district is on the bottom of the list with just 16 councils established so far with 447 pending councils. It is followed by Kulgam where 112 councils have been established and 114 are yet to be constituted.
He, however, said that supply of nutritional stock is being made continuously despite officials are busy in establishing SWVLCs.
When cited areas where centres have been running dry, Sofi said he will see why the supply is not being made by the officials. Regarding Pulwama and Shopain, the centre whom are running dry since 2016,
Sofi said that he has no knowledge and referred to deputy to commissioners of respective districts. “I don’t know why supply is not made to these districts. Talk to DCs,” he replied.
A government order number 267-SWD of 2016 Dated 30-12-2016, said that in order to decentralise the process of implementation of various welfare schemes aiming at mitigating the travails of disempowered sections of the society, besides bringing the benefits of these schemes at the door steps of the people, sanction is accorded to constitution of Village Councils. After successful establishment of councils at the village level, similar councils will be set up at the district level.
The order further says that prominent citizens of the village, preferably from amongst retired government officials residing in the village with known integrity and capability will be its members one of whom will be elected as the Chairman of Village Council.
“Anganwadi Supervisor concerned will be the member secretary. Village council may co-opt any other member to provide/render technical guidance/support if he/she is a non-resident of the village,” reads the order.
In Jammu also, the story is no different. Around 14,500 anganwadi centres in Jammu Division have also gone dry as the nutrition supply to these centres was stopped by the department.