Diversion of funds and poor monitoring are some of the key reasons behind India continuing to have one of the highest – 42 % -- of malnourished children in the 0-6 age group, a CAG report on Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), a crucial centrally sponsored program to monitor health and nutrition of children has found.
State governments have irregularly diverted funds to the tune of Rs. 57.82 crore from ICDS to activities not permitted under the programme, the report by India's top auditor has revealed.
The CAG has come down heavily on the Women & Child Development ministry for “inadequacy” in monitoring systems under the scheme to address child malnutrition. Haryana topped the list of states diverting funds meant for ICDS. It diverted Rs. 38.6 crore received for supplementary nutrition between 2006 and 2011 to state schemes like "Ladli", payment of honorarium to anganwadi workers and for purchase of furniture for new anganwadi centres.
Between 2008 and 2009 09, Uttar Pradesh diverted Rs. 1 crore received for Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities to “Mahamaya Garib Balika Ashirwad Yojana,” a state-sponsored scheme for publicity and printing of pamphlets and application forms.
There was similar diversion of funds by Odisha, Karnataka and Rajasthan. The CAG recommended that funds should be utilized as per guidelines and that there should be no diversion of funds meant for a particular scheme.The WCD also came under stinging criticism from the CAG for poor monitoring of the scheme. The auditor in its report noted that the ministry did not even have the data on eligible beneficiaries of pre-school education making it impossible to ascertain the extent of its coverage.
“The financial monitoring under the scheme was also very weak. Many states did not submit their statements of expenditure and utilisation certificates in time. The ministry failed to notice discrepancies in the financial statements submitted by states/UTs, correctly account for unspent balances lying with them and restrict the expenditure incurred by them to prescribed ceiling resulting in excess reimbursement of funds,” the CAG report said.