In a major remedial step, the state department of women and child development (DWCD) has posted senior field officials in Sheopur to fill up the long existing vacancies in the district.
Not only this, the department has filed a caveat in the high court to ensure that if any of these officials, who have been posted in Sheopur through transfers from nearby districts, seek a stay on the postings, the department should be heard before the stay is granted. This step is to ensure that the officials do join their new postings.
The step comes immediately after HT reported deaths of 25 children (on September 17) in Sheopur and Shivpuri districts due to malnutrition and related diseases. Of the children who died, 21 are from Sheopur.
The transfer orders issued by the department clearly mentions that due to vacancies on senior positions of department in Sheopur district, schemes like Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) were not being implemented effectively leading to increase in malnutrition and other diseases among children.
The DWCD has posted two children development project officers (CDPOs) - one in Sheopur and one in Vijaypur block. Veerpur village, where maximum deaths of children were reported falls under Vijaypur block. There are six approved posts of CDPOs in Sheopur district; three had remained vacant since long time.
Similarly, 14 supervisors have been posted against 20 vacant positions in the district. These posts had also remained vacant since long time. Sources said that officials did not join their postings in the remote areas even after being transferred or got a transfer back within a short duration. They also sought legal recourse and often got a stay to remain posted in the same area for long durations.
"We have asked the district collectors to ensure that the officials are relieved from responsibilities and join their new postings as soon as possible," commissioner of DWCD, Manohar Agnani said.
Review: The commissioner said that vacancy/excess positions of senior field officials across state would be reviewed to find out the exact situation and then steps for rationalisation initiated.
NCPCR visit: Member of National Commission for Protection of Children's Rights (NCPCR) Vandana Prasad, a nutrition expert, would be visiting malnutrition-hit villages of Sheopur district on September 25.
Prasad's visit also comes in the wake of the recently reported deaths of malnourished children in Sheopur and Shivpuri districts. The NCPCR member is expected to visit Veerpur. She would also meet the district authorities and discuss the issues of children.
Apart from Sheopur, Prasad would also visit Satna district (on September 26) that has been reporting malnutrition deaths in past and where NCPCR had held public hearing on the issue in year 2010.
On September 27, the NCPCR member would be in Bhopal and would hold meetings with senior officials of women and child development, social welfare, health and family welfare and other relevant departments. She would also hold discussions with representatives of NGOs working for children's issues, sources said.