India has registered higher infant and child mortality rates than Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Further the country’s position on the measure of the percentage of underweight and severely underweight children during the period 2006-10 was more than twice than that in the Sub-Saharan African region.

This was revealed in the Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s performance audit of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme — Union Ministry of Women and Child Development’s flagship programme — that was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday. The report contains results of performance audit conducted between 2006-07 and 2010-11.

On diversion of money meant for ICDS, the audit report notes that Rs. 57.82 crore was diverted to activities not permitted under the scheme in five of the test-checked States and Rs. 70.11 crore was parked in civil deposits and personal ledger accounts/bank accounts/treasury, resulting in the blocking of funds.

Pointing out the shortage of staff and key functionaries at all levels, the audit notes that 61 per cent of the test-checked anganwadis functioning under the ICDS scheme did not have their own building and 25 per cent were functioning in semi-pucca/kachcha buildings, or open/partially covered space.

Worse, poor hygiene and sanitation was noticed due to the absence of toilets in 52 per cent of the anganwadis.

Further, medicine kits were not available in 33 to 49 per cent of the anganwadis due to failure of the State governments in spending funds released to them by the Centre. Also functional weighing machines for babies and adults were not available in 26 per cent and 58 per cent of the centres respectively. The essential utensils required for providing supplementary nutrition to the beneficiaries were also not available in many places.

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