The basic purpose of anganwadi centres to tackle the problem of malnutrition in children under six seems defeated as such centres in the district have been running from dilapidated buildings with no amenities.
Most such centres do not have their own buildings. Basic amenities like drinking water, toilets and power supply are missing. Instead of improving the health of small children, mostly from poor families, the anganwadi centres have been playing with their health. Many of these centres do not have even containers to store food items.
Most of the anganwadis are being run from places such as the premises of gurdwaras, dharamshalas or schools that do not have the space to accommodate even their own students.
Sources say village panchayats are supposed to provide the basic infrastructure, including a building, to house the anganwadi centre. They promise this at the opening of the centre but then fail to keep the promise, they add.
In urban areas, Rs 750 per month can be claimed to rent a place to run the centre, but a good accommodation costs more than that, sources say.
The anganwadi centre at Bir Chahal village has been running for years from the old two-room dharamshala, the roof of which leaks during rains. The facilities of drinking water and toilets are lacking.
"The condition of the dharmshala is poor as rainwater gets into the rooms and the courtyard also gets filled with rainwater. It is difficult for children to sit in the building," claims Ramandeep, an official with the local gurdwara adjoining the centre.
"We have 16 children in the age group of three to six on rolls, who are supposed to be prepared for pre-school training," claimed an anganwadi worker. "I have been here for four years. The centre has been running from the same building for years," she said.
The other centre at Chahal village has been running from the premises of the primary school of the village which already faces acute shortage of classrooms. The centre has no facilities of its own and avails those at the school.
There is another centre running from a single room at Chahal village. "We have no facilities here. This room also we got by requesting the locals when an old building was being demolished.
We have no toilets or drinking water here," said a worker. There are 539 anganwadi centres in the district and only a few have their own buildings. Child development and project officer Shinderpal Kaur said, "We have about 40 buildings of our own in Faridkot block alone and 30 of them have been given the playway touch."
Deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat has tried to give the playway school touch to 20 centres spending out of the district innovative funds. Bhagat said, "We have tried to renovate them, bought new furniture, playway method study material and containers. We want to reduce the drop-out rate from the centres. I have also written to the director, social security, and hope to improve more such centres."