Even as the death toll of children due to collapse of the wall of an anganwadi centre in Nayagarh district rose to 7 on Tuesday, the Odisha government woke up to the grim reality that many anganwadi centres run in unsafe buildings in the state.
The wall of the centre at a primary school at Ranapur in Nayagarh,about 80 km southeast of Bhubaneswar, collapsed on Monday when food was being served to 14 children. Three children died on the spot while four others succumbed to their injuries in the hospital.
Officials blamed the rain soaked old, dilapidated structure for the tragedy. While the headmistress of the school and two anganwadi workers were suspended over the incident, the government realised that there were hundreds of such buildings across the state.
The women and child development department directed the collectors of all districts to compile a list of such buildings and submit a report by July 13. “We will take up construction of new buildings for anganwadi centres immediately,” women and child development secretary Arati Ahuja said.
There are more than 70,000 anganwadi centres in the states feeding over 53 lakh beneficiaries; including 44 lakh children aged upto 6 and 9 lakh pregnant and lactating mothers.
About 30,000 centres have their own buildings while the rest run in school premises. Most schools usually spare their unused and delapidated rooms for the centres, sources said.
Under the 13th Finance Commission, the centre and the state have allocated Rs. 400 crores and two hundred crores for the construction of 11,000 buildings for anganwadi centres in the state.