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CM sops for women votes

Bhubaneswar, April 30: Chief minister Naveen Patnaik is going all out to woo women voters of the state.

In February, he had announced an assistance of Rs 10,000 to self-help groups (SHGs) that have been functional for over three years. Today, he launched the Shakti Vaarta scheme, under which 7,000 women SHGs will try to educate other women on various issues.

The SHG members will be trained as facilitators to reach out to 10 lakh women across the state. “The scheme will empower women to understand issues and tackle problems related to newborn babies and maternal health, besides fighting malnutrition,” said Naveen.

Shakti Vaarta will emphasise on interactive meetings in remote areas of the state to create awareness among women on health, nutrition, water and sanitation. It would also encourage discussions on problem solving and decision-making among tribal and rural masses.

Meetings will be held on subjects ranging from newborn and maternal care, malnutrition, diet during pregnancy, feeding the child, taking care of sick children and sanitation.

Reacting to the launch of this programme, Pradesh Congress Committee president Niranajan Patnaik said: “Keeping the elections in mind, the government is in a hurry to announce one programme after another.”

The programme will be implemented in 15 districts of the state.

Three districts — Balangir, Kandhamal and Rayagada — will be covered in the first phase while 12 other districts, including Angul, Kalahandi, Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Malkangiri, will be taken up in the second phase.

Naveen also launched another scheme called Nua Arunima today, which is a learning package to strengthen pre-school education for children between three and six years in anganwadi centres of the state. The pre-school training and learning kit developed by the women and child development department contains workbooks and 12 theme-based training CDs for anganwadi workers.

“The kit prepared with technical collaboration from Unicef will strengthen pre-school education,” said school and mass education minister Rabi Narayan Nanda.

The programme would be part of the integrated child development scheme. It would focus on physical and mental development, language, cognitive development, creativity and personality development of a child.