CHILDREN residing in the rural areas are in for some good time. Instead of ‘panjiri, they will now get to eat ‘hot cooked food’ straight out of their mother’s hand.
Women Welfare and Child Development Department, which has taken a decision to form mothers’ committees to set the novel idea rolling, hopes that the bond between the mother and the child will not only protect the children from malnutrition but also smash the hold of mafias over the supply of energy food.
The women whose children are registered at aganbari centers would be nominated in the mother committees. Active women who are member of self-help groups will get preference. A woman member of the gram sabha will be also inducted in the committee. The Department will also ensure that women nominated in the committees are apolitical and have interest in the social activities.
The committees will now ensure that children get nutritious food at the aganbari centres. Earlier, aganbari workers used to distribute ‘panjiri’ that included weaning food for the children in the age group of 0 to 3 years and amylast food to the children in the age group of 3 to 6 years. Each year the Women Welfare and Child Development Department floats tender for the supply of the energy food. Usually the mafias supported by powerful politicians grabbed the multi crore deal. To make fast buck they supplied substandard weaning and amylast food.
Now the WWCD Department officials hope that the committees would not only break the nexus between the politicians and the mafias, but will also ensure that children get quality food.
Hindustan Times had exposed how the mafias used to put pressure on the politicians to get the tender rules tailor made so that they could grab the tender with ease. Earlier, the state government used to procure the weaning and amylast food from the state small-scale units. Later the small-scale units were sidetracked and companies supported by the mafia group captured the tender.
The WWCD Department was flooded with complaints regarding supply of sub standard food. Some villages even did not receive any consignment of energy food. In the first phase of the new scheme of things, hot cooked food will be served to the children in 20 blocks located in five districts, including Saharanpur, Mathura, Jhansi, Deoria and Unnao. “Gradually we will launch it in all the villages of the state”, said Balwinder Kumar, secretary, Women Welfare and Child Development.
The menu includes kheer, halwa, kichri and other items liked by the children. A team of officials is visiting Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh that have already launched the cooked food scheme successfully. The team is expected to submit its report in the first week of July and on July 15 the scheme will be launched in the state.