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NRC to blame? Assam misses nutrition target

State officials claimed, according to the targets of the scheme, governments are mandated to procure smartphones and growth monitoring devices for the state’s 61,690 anganwadi centres to track nutrition among beneficiaries of Integrated Child Development Services scheme at regular intervals.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2019 07:12 IST
Amrita Madhukalya
Amrita Madhukalya
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Assam,nutrition,Poshan Abhiyaan
The ongoing exercise to update the National Register of Citizens, aimed at weeding out illegal immigrants, could have led to missed nutrition targets in Assam. (Representative Image/Reuters File Photo)

The ongoing exercise to update the National Register of Citizens, aimed at weeding out illegal immigrants, could have led to missed nutrition targets in Assam. This was revealed in a review meeting of the state’s performance of the Narendra Modi government’s flagship nutrition scheme, “Poshan Abhiyaan”.

“Poshan Abhiyaan” is a monitoring exercise under the National Nutrition Mission, aimed at bringing down stunting of children in the age group of 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.

On Tuesday, Union minister of women and child development Smriti Irani held a meeting in Guwahati with chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, state ministers Pramila Rani Brahma and Ranjit Dutta, and officials from both WCD and textiles ministries to take stock of the scheme. When Irani tried to find out why Assam had failed to get even 50% of their targets for Poshan,state officials told her that the ongoing work to update the NRC was one of the prime reasons .

“Most officials were engaged in NRC work. Since it is a Supreme Court mandated process, the state cannot direct them to do anything else,” social welfare minister Brahma said.

State officials claimed, according to the targets of the scheme, governments are mandated to procure smartphones and growth monitoring devices for the state’s 61,690 anganwadi centres to track nutrition among beneficiaries of Integrated Child Development Services scheme at regular intervals. ICDS is a central government programme that provides for supplementary nutrition, immunisation and pre-school education to the children.

Once the devices are procured, anganwadi workers are trained to use the smartphones, which come equipped with a common software based on GPS technology, and facilitate real-time monitoring of nutritional parameters of beneficiaries.

However, because of delays in procurement of the devices, the process was stalled. Hemen Das, state secretary for the department of social welfare, said that Assam also has a shortage of 1,000 anganwadi workers. “The procurement order will be issued in two days and we expect the whole process to be completed in the next three months,” said Das.

Brahma said that subsequently the panchayat elections and the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections that came into force from March 10 stalled the work further. She said the state government now aims to finish all the procurement work by the end of this month.

Miguel Queah, a Guwahati-based child rights activist, sai, “They are jeopardising the health of state’s malnourished children as children are not a vote bank.”

First Published: Jun 13, 2019 07:11 IST