Unutilised rice rotting at Anganwari centres in Pulwama

Unutilised rice rotting at Anganwari centres in Pulwama
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Helpers say many children stopped visiting centres

Pulwama: Tons of rice which remain unutilised for the last two years at various Anganwadi centres across this south Kashmir district is at the risk of getting spoiled.
Sources from Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) told Kashmir Reader that hundreds of quintals of rice were supplied to Anganwadi centres under wheat-based nutrition programme.
They said around 3600 quintals of rice were supplied to 1200 Anganwadi centres in Pulwama and each centre received three quintals for making recipe for children.
“Other ingredients required for making the recipe were not supplied and we were asked to stop cooking the rice till these items are received,” they said adding that two years have passed since then but they received no communication from higher authorities regarding utilisation of the rice.
“The rice has started rotting,” an Anganwadi helper from Pulwama told Kashmir Reader. “I had to throw away around half of the supplied rice after it was infested with pests. I replaced the spoiled quantity with fresh rice which I had to buy from market out of my own pocket.”
The helper added that for the last two years, she has been sun-drying the rice after every three days to prevent it from getting infested. “Still, I couldn’t save it (rice) from spoiling,” she said.
The lady is now using a pesticide to keep the unutilised rice safe. She and many other helpers of Anganwadi centres from Drussu, Chaterpora and other villages of Pulwama said the supply was received in two turns in 2016 and (November) 2017.
The Anganwadi workers said they had several times brought the matter into the notice of their immediate officers who “failed to take any decision”.
“Now we can’t serve it (rice) to our children. It is better for authorities to take it back and destroy it,” they said. “The non-availability of nutritional items has impacted our centres as the enrolled children have stopped visiting here. They (students) used to come for cooked food. When we couldn’t provide them they stopped coming.”
When the issue was brought into notice of lower rung officers of ICDS, they said they had many a times sought suggestions from higher authorities. Supporting their claims, the officers showed official correspondence wherein the programme officer ICDS Pulwama was requested to grant permission to allow children to take the items home.
“Since the item (rice) available at Anganwadi centres is perishable and there is every apprehension that it shall perish if not utilized as reported by supervisors. For judicial use of the item there is only provision take home ration left with us as per ICDS guidelines. As such necessary guidance is solicited at your end with regard to take home ratio option for the rice,” the official correspondence reads.
The programme officer ICDS Pulwama Mohammad Ahsan Mir told Kashmir Reader that they have received new ingredients (nutrition items) and within 15 days, it will be supplied to all the Anganwadi centres.
“Some of the Anganwadi centres have been supplied with fresh items and rest will be completed within 15 days,” he said.