M A I N   N E W S

A TRIBUNE exclusive
Haryana’s anganwaris—II
Zero accountability results in waste
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
Everything about Haryana’s anganwaris is open, just the way the government would want its working to be. Anganwari compounds are multipurpose - serving as kitchens and classrooms at the same time. Add to that lack of drinking water and toilet facilities as also the absence of any fruitful activity to keep children gainfully occupied, and you have a perfect recipe to make these anganwaris “destinations unattractive”.

Despite a budget of over Rs 500 crore being available to the Women and Child Department, which is entrusted with the task of running these anganwaris, and a 35,000-strong workforce comprising an in charge and a helper each at 17,445 anganwaris, these have miserably failed to attract children (in the 3-6 age group) for whom these are meant.

Like Wazir Singh of Khurana village in Kaithal explains, “Providing food is not an issue with most families in our village. Other than providing food, these anganwaris do nothing. So, if a child ends up learning nothing, we’d rather keep him at home than send him to roll in dust and burn in the heat.”

Though the department has provided toys, pre-school kits, alphabet charts, these have either been “misplaced” or lie dumped in storerooms, gathering dust.

At most places, anganwaris have merely been reduced to nutrition-supply centres worth visiting once the food is ready. With zero-accountability, no monitoring or public participation, piling up

stocks and a lax district administration, anganwaris seem to have lost track of the idea that gave birth to them. In charge Geeta can’t remember the last time an official came visiting.

While the foodgrains come from the Central Government, the Additional Deputy Commissioner of the district heads a committee to procure other raw material by inviting tenders.

In a district, there are programme officers of the WCD Department at the top followed by the CDPO and then the supervisors (each entrusted with 
the responsibility of monitoring 20 anganwaris), who have so far proved ineffective.

Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Geeta Bhukkal admits that the problems are aplenty, including the lack of basic facilities at some places. “We have, recently, introduced a monitoring proforma to know the stocks consumed and available on a daily basis. The field staff has been asked to visit anganwaris fortnightly, carry out inspections, sign the proforma and submit report. This will give us an idea of the ground situation,” she says.

Stating that the removal of stocks to residences by anganwari in charges is a serious issue, Bhukkal says now the stocks come with a government stamp, making them easily identifiable. “This will be a deterrent,” she maintains.

She rues the public disinterest towards government initiatives introduced for their betterment. “When anganwaris belongs to villages, in charge and the helpers are villagers themselves, why don’t parents themselves take charge? The government is providing staff, foodgrains and facilities. The least they can do is keep a check on the functioning,” she suggests.





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