Anganwadis as bad as roads, drains in suburbs

CRYING FOR ATTENTION: The poor condition of one of the Integrated Child Development Scheme centres in Alandur. Photo : K. Manikandan  

K. Manikandan

Children at the mercy of damaged walls, rodents and snakes

TAMBARAM: While parents from poor families leave their children at the care of government-run creches, children here have rodents and snakes for company. Many anganwadis centres run by the government to look after children till they attain school-going age in the southern suburbs of Chennai are in a pitiable condition.

Many anganwadis are located amidst heaps of garbage. Buildings with crumbling walls, damaged floors and open ceilings are common. With local bodies in charge of their maintenance, the condition of the government-run creches is just as bad as roads, drains or any other basic amenity.

For instance, the condition of a cluster of seven anganwadis in Alandur near the Gandhi Hospital has to be seen to believed. Against a capacity of 175 children, there are only 110 children in these seven centres. Officials of the Department of Social Welfare said many parents took their children away from the centres owing to the pathetic condition of the structures.

The centres are run by the Integrated Child Development Scheme and 50 pregnant women and 75 young mothers received their supplementary food here. Some of the centres are more than 20 years old and the asbestos roofing is missing at many places. The mosquito menace is unbearable for children as the centres are surrounded by garbage and sewage.

Anganwadis in Vanuvampettai are frequented by snakes as the centres are infested with rodents, the officials complained.

The officials pointed out that the expenses for after the children, including nutritious noon meal, and wages for a worker and a helper in each centre, were borne by the department, which also gave the local bodies Rs. 100 per centre for maintenance. But it was entirely the local body's responsibility to ensure proper maintenance of the anganwadis, they said.

Officials of the Department of Municipal Administration said the amount given to the local bodies by Department of Social Welfare was meagre.

The Alandur Municipality had 66 anganwadis and the local body would be carrying out improvement works in about one-third of them from its own funds, the officials said.

If the amount required for maintenance of these facilities was too high, they would approach the State Government, they added.