A fact-finding team that visited Malkanagiri district, where many children reportedly died of Japanese encephalitis recently, said Integrated Child Development Services in the district had failed to deliver its desired goal.

“The ICDS programme is undertaken with a mandate to provide nutritious food to children and to check IMR and MMR in the district. It has a package of services like immunization, referral, feeding, pre-school education and free health services for the children (0-6 years) and lactating and pregnant women. But the programme has been utterly mismanaged,” alleged Pradip Pradhan, State Convener Right to Food Campaign Odisha.

Mr. Pradhan said casual visit of Anganwadi Workers (AWW) in the centre and their long absence has made the centre non-functional in most of the villages and deprived the children of food.

“Many AWCs do not have own buildings and are still running in rented house. In Potrel village, newly-constructed AWC is closed for two years. Many of the centres are in a bad shape and not child-friendly,” he pointed out.

At a press conference held here on Wednesday, the team displayed inferior quality of Chhatua (ration), a food item prepared out of wheat, groundnut, sugar and Buta dal with proportional quantity for the distribution among the children (7 months to 3 years), malnourished children, pregnant and lactating women through the Anganwadi centres.

According to fact-finding report, as per new ICDS guideline prepared by State government, women SHGs would be entrusted preparation of Chhatua. But in Malkanagiri handing over responsibility for preparation and distribution of Chhatua to women SHGs started from the month of October, 2012, it said.

“The delay in handing over the responsibility to women SHGs is attributed to lack of capacity of SHGs to manage the business and the administration could not get effective group to handle such business. But it was found that women SHGs entrusted with the responsibility of preparing Chhatua are not managing it. Rather some traders and NGOs in the name of women SHGs are managing Chhatua business in the district,” said Pradipta Nayak, member State Monitoring Committee on Mid Day Meal programme.

Mr. Tripathy alleged during team’s visit it was found that the children were consuming less quantity of MDM in the schools.

Tapan Mohapatra, a child rights activist, who was part of the team, said Japanese encephalitis claimed 38 children in the last three months. But government succour was missing in high number of deaths, he said.

The team recommended total revamp of ICDS programme in the State. Distribution of Chhatua should be properly monitored and stern action must be taken against the concerned agencies in case of any allegation of corruption and irregularities against them, it said.

  • Many anganwadi centres do not have own buildings

  • Japanese encephalitis claimed 38 children in the last three months, says activist