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Anganwadi probe plea

Cuttack, July 16: A petition seeking direction for a probe by an independent investigation agency into work undertaken for construction and repair of buildings for anganwadi centres across Odisha was filed at Orissa High Court today.

The petition also sought inquiry into the “standard of work done by the contractors” in 2000-12, while seeking direction from the state government to submit details of funds received from the central government for the purpose during that period.

Dillip Kumar Mohapatra, a member of the high court bar council who filed the petition said he had, in February 2011, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) for proper implementation of the mid-day meal programme, supply of drinking water, infrastructure at anganwadi centres in Odisha and steps to repair those that were damaged and unsafe.

The petition stated that 1,639 anganwadi centres were beyond repair and about 4,819 required major repair work. Another 5,023 required minor repairs. Notices were issued to the state government and the case has been pending before the court. According to the petition, the government, in its reply filed on July 10, 2011, had stated: “The women and child welfare department has placed a sum of Rs 17crore with the districts for the repair and construction of anganwadi centres across the state during 2009-10. Further, the 13th Finance Commission has earmarked a sum of Rs 400 crore for the construction of anganwadi centres across the state.”

Mohapatra alleged that the allotted funds were not properly utilised and “substandard work was done by contractors without supervision”.

The tragic incident, in which seven children were killed after the collapse of the wall of an anganwadi centre July 9, is a consequence of “drawing of money by contractors without constructing or repairing anganwadi centres at various districts,” Mohapatra further said.

This is the second petition that has been filed in the high court since the tragic incident at the anganwadi centre at Nelia Upper Primary School at Suansia Sahi under Ranpur block in Nayagarh district.

Earlier human rights activist and member of the high court Bar Prabir Kumar Das had filed a PIL seeking direction to the government to constitute a task force immediately to study the buildings across the state where anganwadi centres are operating to take preventive measures to avert such incidents in future.