A debate that was aimed at helping poor children took an altogether different turn on Saturday, as legislators demanded that they should get the authority to handle the scheme.
Under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), state provides nutritional food to poor children, who attend government-run nurseries called ‘anganwadi’. The financial assistance given for the purpose is meager – Rs 4 to Rs 6 per child.
As the issue came up in the assembly during the question hour, senior legislator Ganpatrao Deshmukh (Peasents’ and Workers’ Party) and other members pointed out that considering the inflation, the funds should be increased substantially. Deputy CM Ajit Pawar and child welfare minister Varsha Gaikwad assured the legislators that funds would be increased.
However, opposition leader Eknath Khadse and legislators Shishir Shinde (MNS) and Vilasrao Patil (Congress) demanded that the state appoint MLAs as heads of the committees supervising functioning of ICDS.
The legislators were angry that the committees were being headed by workers from NGOs and alleged that local elected representatives had no say in their functioning. Shinde called it encroachment on the rights of legislators. Pawar pointed out that the ICDS was run as per the directives of the Centre, who wanted involvement of NGOs.
Finally, giving in to their demand, speaker Dilip Walse-Patil and Pawar promised them that a meeting would be soon convened to discuss the issue.