Health Department team inspects 2,110 anganwadis in district as per request forwarded by district panchayat

In inspections at anganwadis across the district on Thursday, the district health administration seized huge quantities of rice, wheat, green gram, and other such articles, which were found to be unfit for consumption.

Notices were issued to 265 anganwadis for keeping stale and rotten rice, for not maintaining hygienic conditions in kitchen and the surroundings, and for using unsafe drinking water.

The district health administration had constituted 210 teams, including Medical Officers, health workers, supervisors, and Accredited Social Health Activists, who visited 2,110 anganwadis in the district.

The inspections were held following a request from the district panchayat, which had passed a resolution that the District Medical Officer be asked to conduct an inspection of the hygiene standards at anganwadis. Health officials said they had seized 8,052 kg rice, 353 kg wheat, 49 kg green gram, 55 kg ragi, 69 kg jaggery, 17 kg pressed rice (‘aval’), 6 kg coconut oil, and small quantities of peanut, chana and sesame sweets, all of which were stale and unfit for human consumption.

“In most of the anganwadis, it was not bad storage which had led to the foodgrain getting spoilt but they had been supplied with rice/wheat stock which were rotten in the first place. In some anganwadis, the food items stored were past the expiry date. We checked the recently arrived stocks of foodgrain in some anganwadis but that was also stale and rotten,” P.K. Raju, District Health Officer (Rural), said.

“A few anganwadis did have storage issues and the kitchens were not clean. Though the supply of foodgrain is supposed to be a quarterly affair, many a time, huge stocks were dumped on them and the anganwadis had no option but to keep it for fear that further supplies may not arrive. Teachers in anganwadis said they used to rinse the foodgrain in hot water several times over before cooking. Anganwadis are also at fault because instead of using bad foodgrain and creating a potential food-poisoning hazard, they should have informed their ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) supervisors immediately about the bad stock,” Mr. Raju said.

Last year too, after stale foodgrain was seized from anganwadis in a similar exercise, the District Collector had convened a special meeting and the Civil Supplies Department had been issued a warning about supplying bad stock of grains to anganwadis. The department had been issued orders to replace all bad stock immediately. As the stocks have been frozen, many anganwadis will have to find some alternative arrangement for providing food to children. There are several outstanding issues such as whether the Civil Supplies Department will replace the stocks and how to dispose of the huge quantities of stale grains, officials said. The report on the inspections will be sent to the Collector and ICDS officials immediately.