Just 60 paise more to save kids

This is not happy news for children who face the risk of malnourishment. A year after child malnutrition deaths were reported, the state government has been able to increase the per day per child spend on supplementary nutrition by only 60 paise from Rs 4 to Rs 4.60.

The meagre hike has upset the high court appointed committee headed by Justice N.K. Patil, which in its final recommendations has sought better allocation of grants for the Integrated Child Development Serv­ices (ICDS) in anganwadis, run on a cost sharing basis between the Centre and the state.

“The total budget for ICDS nutrition programme is Rs 795 crore for 2012-13. The Centre has given Rs 335 crore while the state has given a matching fund and an additional contribution of Rs 125 crore,” said a senior official of the women and child development (WCD) department.

While WDC officials assert that the hike compared to last year is 15 per cent, committee members feel it is inadequate to cater to the nutrition needs of 55.04 lakh beneficiaries. In addition, the ongoing survey of non-ICDS children will bring a larger number of deprived children under ICDS.

“It is a shame that the government has failed to substantially increase the grant for providing nutritious food to children even after the court committee reminder. This is not enough to provide nutritious food as the cost includes energy and transport charges too,” noted Y. Mariswamy, a Committee member.

The monitoring by the court committee has had its impact. “There is an increase in awareness about child malnutrition in the community, while Anganwadis are documenting malnutrition cases and providing treatment follow-ups.

The menu has also changed with children now provided freshly cooked food. Every district has nutrition rehab centers. A major drawback is the lack of infrastructure in Anganwadis,” explained Mariswamy.

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