High protein items through PDS on the anvil: Reva
THE UNION Government is seriously contemplating getting high-protein food items like pulses, soybean and oilseeds distributed through the Public Distribution System (PDS) to allow poor people access to these important supplements. The proposal is being floated by Union Ministry of Women and Child Development to tackle the colossal problem of malnutrition in the country.india Updated: Jun 10, 2006 01:46 IST
THE UNION Government is seriously contemplating getting high-protein food items like pulses, soybean and oilseeds distributed through the Public Distribution System (PDS) to allow poor people access to these important supplements.
The proposal is being floated by Union Ministry of Women and Child Development to tackle the colossal problem of malnutrition in the country.
Secretary of Union Ministry Reva Nayyar today told the Hindustan Times that soon her department will formally be writing to the Union Ministry of Food and Civil Supplies. Nayyar said high protein food items, mainly pulses, which were so important to improve nutrition levels, were unaffordable for poor people. Unless these items were made available to them at subsidised rates, their consumption was almost impossible.
On the other hand, production of pulses and oilseeds have also gone down drastically owing to lowered demand consequent to high cost. If the Government decides to subsidise these items, production will also get a much-needed boost, the secretary mentioned.
SUPPLEMENTARY FOOD BUDGET: She also said Union Government will be proposing a hike in budget for supplementary cooked food provided to children through anganwadi centres.
A proposal to hike the ‘per day per children’ grant to Rs 4 (Rs two each as share of State and Union Government) will be put forth to the 11th Finance Commission she said. Presently, the budget for supplementary food is Rs two per day per children (Re one each contributed by the State and Union Government).
She also said to tackle the issue of malnutrition better and to provide benefit to more children, the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) had been expanded and last year as many as 1.88 lakh new anganwadi centres were granted across country.
This year too, 1.50 lakh anganwadis will be opened in various States. Nayyar emphasised malnutrition led to energy deficiency and severely hampered productivity. She said cure of malnutrition related complications cost 27 times more than preventive methods. She also highlighted the fact that the first five years of the life of children were truly formative years and any deficiency during these years could lead to permanent harm.
“It is truly shocking that during this period the Government spends the least amount on children. There is need to create awareness on this aspect among State Governments,’’ she said.
Reacting on the grim situation of Infant and Maternal Mortality Rates (IMR and MMR) in Madhya Pradesh, she said there were umpteen facets of the problem and what was needed most was the strengthening of basic infrastructure all across to provide better and cleaner living environment to people.
She further added the percentage of underweight children in India (47 pc) was even higher than Pakistan (38), Sri Lanka (27) and Bhutan (19) and just below Nepal and Bangladesh (both 48 pc). Similarly, the percent of low birth weight babies in the country (30 pc) is the highest in world.