“63 per cent of centres operate under unhealthy conditions”

Of the 55,000 anganwadis functioning in Tamil Nadu, nearly 63 per cent are located in private buildings and operate under unhygienic conditions, says a study.

The report, prepared by Thozhamai, a Chennai-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), in collaboration with CRY (Child Rights and You), claims children face discrimination even at the pre-primary level as 97 per cent of the children who attend the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) centres are drawn from the economically weaker sections. In 2012, the NGO surveyed 500 anganwadis in 20 districts, including Dindigul, Theni, Ramanathapuram, Tirunelveli, Tuticorin amd Virudhunagar, to identify the status and problems prevailing at the ICDS centres.

The findings revealed that 24 per cent of the centres did not function after lunch, contravening the norms laid down by the government. In about nine per cent of the centres, supplementary food was not provided to the children, which defeats the very purpose for which the anganwadi was set up. In addition, children were not vaccinated in 17 per cent of the centres, the study pointed out.

Noting that nearly 50 per cent of children in the country were malnourished, A. Devaneyan, Director, Thozhamai, told reporters here on Wednesday that the centres were not properly monitored.

There was staff shortage in most centres.

Mr. Devaneyan said he was opposed to outsourcing the maintenance of the ICDS centres to private parties.

The NGO demanded the implementation of Supreme Court recommendations, a separate law for the programme to ensure its universalisation, a proper monitoring system, child-friendly anganwadis and so on.

“It is a good scheme and the State and Central governments must allocate more funds to accomplish the goals of ICDS,” Mr. Devaneyan observed.