| The Anganwadi centre at Bengali Gali in a dilapidated condition. Telegraph picture |
Jorhat, Feb. 12: Anganwadi centres in garages, verandahs (courtyards), under staircases, in storage areas, on rooftops, no children in some centres and centres not making meals — are some of the irregularities revealed in a survey conducted by an NGO, Purva Bharati Educational Trust, in 19 wards of Jorhat district.
The NGO has decided to demand an inquiry into the matter and also apprise the social welfare department and the National Child Protection Committee of their findings. At first, the NGO had taken recourse to the Right to Information Act but since the authorities did not properly answer their queries, they undertook the survey.
Addressing a news conference here today, Bondita Acharya, consultant of the organisation, said out of the 160 Anganwadi centres listed by the social welfare department, eight in each of the 19 municipal wards of the district, they could not find the names of 11 centres — Jyotipur, Fancy Ali Masjid, TRP Road, Dohabora Sook, Old Avart Bhawan, Choladhora LP School, Club Road, JEC Road, Borigaon Ka and Borigaon Puja Mandir. “On the other hand, we found a total of 164 centres, four of which were not listed,” he said.
Of these centres, five government-run ones were in good condition but according to survey members, there were no children in two of them. Most of the centres were being run in rented houses or in the houses of workers or sahayikas (helpers).
“Forty-two centres were being run in the houses of karmis (workers), eight in sahayikas’ houses — in their garages, verandahs, dressing or drawing rooms or in their storage areas,” Acharya said. The others were found being run in schools, clubs, and naamghars and only 10 had signboards hung in the front.
The NGO also found five Anganwadi centres were located within 100 metres in the Tarajan puja mandir area, with two opposite each other across Tarajan Pukhuri. In Daccaipatty, two centres were located in the same house and being run by two sisters.
“In many cases, we believe the appointment of Anganwadi karmis were politically motivated because we found members of the same family making up the governing body,” she said.
The survey team also found that no centre had provision for cooking meals. “The rule is to give a nutritious meal of fruits in the morning and well-cooked meal in the afternoon to children. I have worked in Anganwadi centres in Gujarat, where each day a separate menu is made and cooking done accordingly. Though we saw utensils lying around here, we did not see any cooking being done anywhere,” she said.
“The whole exercise of addressing maternal and child health under the Integrated Child Development Scheme and getting subsidised or free rice, pulses and other items besides Rs 5 per child per day is lost, if the nutritional needs of children are not fulfilled,” Acharya said.
The NGO also found 65 centres having between one and five children, 26 with five to 10 kids, six had between 11 and 15, one had between 16 and 29 children, three centres had 21, while 64 did not have a single child. However, all of them had long lists of children for which funds were being doled out.
On the allocation of funds to the centres by the social welfare department since 2009, the NGO found five such allocations had been made. One centre had been allotted funds only once, 12 had been given two times, 21 centres three times, 71 four times, 23 got five times and 35 could not give any details.
An official of the department said she was not aware of such anomalies.