M. L. Melly Maithreyi

Complaints of poor nutritional levels in areas covered by ICDS: Renuka

HYDERABAD: The Centrally-sponsored Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme will soon be brought under mission mode to make field-level officers and workers accountable.

With implementation of ICDS projects being under the States’ purview, the Central Government does not have direct control to evaluate them.

But given alarming reports about poor nutrition levels, ill-health of children and pregnant women, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development proposed to have evaluation and accountability norms in place.

The proposal has been forwarded to the Finance Minister for budgetary sanction and a decision is expected soon, Union Minister of State for Women and Child Development Renuka Choudhary told The Hindu here on Tuesday.

Public hearing

Recently a public hearing conducted by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights headed by Shantha Sinha, on the death of 186 children last year in Adilabad district due to viral fevers and malaria brought out issues like malnutrition, anaemia which aggravated tribals’ health problems despite being covered under the scheme

“We have complaints of poor nutritional levels in areas covered by ICDS projects across India,” Ms. Renuka admitted.

The State has 385 ICDS projects with 67,463 anganwadi centres and with about 80,000 Anganwadi workers manning them in rural areas and slums in urban centres. An Anganwadi is the focal point for the delivery of services like providing supplementary nutrition to children aged six months to six years, pregnant and lactating mothers, nutrition and health education to mothers and adolescent girls at community level. Officials say the drawback lay in deploying anganwadi workers for every Government programme, from ration card survey, photo identity card, revenue survey to Indiramma housing.

Responsibilities

Unless Anganwadi workers are made to remain in the centres from 9 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. every day, it would not serve the purpose, they said, adding that other departments too should realise that anganwadi workers have specific responsibilities and are not contingent workers.

The State department is also evolving performance appraisal parameters to fix accountability from district-level officers to Anganwadi workers to ensure that the benefits reached people.