Although the State Government issued an order to supply eggs and milk to severely malnourished children in anganwadis from April 1, many children have not received the promised nourishment even 20 days after the programme began.
A majority of the anganwadis are either in the dark about the Government Order or, even if they have received information, there is little clarity on the details of implementation.
The decision by the Department of Women and Child Development to include egg and milk four days a week with meals given to children categorised as ‘severely malnourished' was in line with one of the recommendations by a committee constituted by the Karnataka High Court to address the problem of malnutrition in the State.
In a letter on March 17, the Director of the department, who refers to a Government Order dated February 28, directs the chief executive officers of zilla panchayats, and officials of the Animal Husbandry and Education departments, among others, to implement the decision.
The information does not seem to have percolated to the anganwadi centres.
“In districts such as Chickballapur, Raichur, Kolar, Bagalkot, Bangalore Rural and Belgaum, the children haven't yet been given eggs or milk,” said Y. Mariswamy, State organiser of the Samajika Parivarthana Janandolana, and a member of the committee.
With many anganwadi workers completely unaware of the order, Varalakshmi, general secretary of the KarnatakaStateAnganwadi Workers'Association, blamed it on lack of communication between officials of the Department of Women and Child Development and workers.
“After having sent only one letter to district-level officials, with no follow-up or monitoring, how can the department expect all workers to be informed about the scheme,” she asked.
Even among the anganwadi centres that had received the orders, there was no clarity on costing or supply. “In many anganwadis, the department has asked workers to buy eggs and milk and then produce the receipts to be reimbursed later. This has deterred many from implementing the scheme,” said Ms. Varalakshmi.
“But there is so much miscommunication. Sometimes, it's just a one-line order and no further information is given to the workers,” she said.
Officials of the department, however, claimed that the order had been implemented “well” across the State.
“The only problem we have had so far is the objection to restricting the supply to the severely malnourished. Parents of other children have also asked for milk and eggs”, said a highly placed official.