Every Third Child in Gujarat is Underweight: CAG
Ahmedabad: The CAG has lambasted the working of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in Gujarat, which is aimed at fighting malnutrition among children, saying every third child in the state is underweight. “Though there were 223.16 lakh eligible beneficiaries under Supplementary Nutrition (SN) programme under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), 63.37 lakh beneficiaries were left out,” the CAG said in its report, which was tabled in the state Assembly on Thursday.
“As against the target of 300 nutrition days annually, shortfall in providing SN was up to 96 days. Every third child in the state was reported as underweight. Shortfall of 27 percent to 48 percent was noticed in the implementation of nutrition programme for adolescent girls,” the report said.
The report further said that a population of 1.87 crore was deprived of the benefits of ICDS. “Against the requirements of 75,480 Angan Wadi Centres (AWCs), 52,137 AWCs (69 percent) were sanctioned and 50,225 AWCs were in operation in the state, thereby, a population of 1.87 crore was deprived of the benefits of ICDS,” the report stated.
The report goes on to say that though the central government directed the state government in November 2008 to submit proposal for additional projects based on revised population criteria, the state did not forward any proposal. The report also highlighted the lack of basic amenities (building, safe drinking water and toilets) in nine to 40 percent of AWCs in the 123 projects in eight test-checked districts.
National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) had sanctioned a loan to construct 3,333 AWCs, but only 1,979 AWCs were constructed, the report said, adding that records regarding immunisation programme were not available with AWCs.
The report highlights that though funds for purchase of the medical kits were provided, they were not bought by the District Development Officer (DDO). Of the 34.28 lakh children registered in the AWCs of the selected districts, only 26.94 lakh children enrolled for pre-school education, the report said, adding that there was a shortfall in supply of pre-school kits while the tri-cycles procured for children in the test-checked district was of “poor quality”.
The Centre had launched ICDS in 1975 to promote holistic development of children (till six years), expectant and lactating mothers and adolescent girls (11-18 years) through package services comprising supplementary nutrition, immunisation, health check-ups, nutrition and health education and informal pre-school education of children.
Till 2008-09, the Centre funded the project entirely. Thereafter, the state government’s share was 10 percent and Centre funded 90 percent of the project. The expenditure on Supplementary Nutrition Programme was shared by the Centre and the state.