Anganwadi running in public toilet for 14 years in Mohali
There are at least 15 children, aged between six months and six years, who visit the anganwadi daily.Updated: Feb 22, 2020 00:22 IST
An anganwadi has been operating from a defunct public toilet for the past 14 years at Sohana village in Mohali.
An anganwadi is a rural childcare centre, running as part of the Integrated Child Development Services programme to combat child hunger and malnutrition.
There are at least 15 children, aged between six months and six years, who visit the anganwadi daily. Both children and pregnant women are also administered vaccination by auxiliary nurse midwives during monthly health checkup at this centre, raising safety concerns.
The structure, which houses public toilets for both men and women, was built by Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) in 1994. However, it remained defunct, following which the panchayat decided to allow an anganwadi to operate in its lobby in 2006.
On entering the centre, a sight of cow dung cakes welcomes you. Also, malba has been dumped
in toilet seats.
This poor state of affairs came to light during Punjab Food Commission member AK Sharma’s visit to Mohali, to inspect various fair price schools, midday meal centres and anganwadis.
Mohali subdivisional magistrate Jagdeep Sehgal, who was accompanying Sharma, said: “We were shocked to see an anganwadi operating in a public toilet, during the visit on Wednesday. I have asked the officials concerned to shift it within seven days.” Sharma has sought a compliance report as well.
Anganwadis fall under the social welfare department. “The department’s district programming officer (DPO) told us that owing to lack of infrastructure, the anganwadi in Sohana village was operating in the defunct toilet. However, considering the safety of children, we cannot allow it.”
The visit revealed that most anganwadis were operating in one room in various schools, but there too the midday meal
was being cooked in the same room.
Additional deputy commissioner (development) Aashika Jain said: “The recent inspections have pointed to some shortcomings in running of anganwadis in Mohali. We have asked the DPO to shift all anganwadis running from spaces that are not tenable in a timebound manner.” She said that there are space constraints in schools, but the room used as anganwadi cannot be allowed to be used for cooking
Councillor Parminder Singh Sohana said the public toilet in the village was never put to use after its construction in 1994.
“So in 2006, the village panchayat decided to allow an anganwadi to run there, and a small enclosure was created in the lobby,” he said. “The decision was taken to prevent people from taking possession of the structure illegally, as it is situated on a prime chunk of land in the village. “Now, instead
of shifting the anganwadi, we will renovate the building to make it fit to be used for the purpose,” he said.