Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 27:
Out of nearly 71, 000 functional anganwadi centres in Odisha, a whopping 48, 000 (68%) do not have their own building. Out of 71, 306 sanctioned positions of Anganwadi Workers, 2, 906 are vacant. Out of the 60, 918 sanctioned positions of Anganwadi Helpers, 581 are vacant.
These are some of the startling figures that emerged at a multi-stakeholder sharing workshop organised by the Odisha Budget and Accountability Centre (OBAC) here today.
The figures were based on Fourteenth Finance Commission’s Recommendation and OBAC’s own experience on conducting Citizens’ Report Card and Community Score Card – accountability tools for the community to monitor the status of ICDS services at the Anganwadi Centres in Odisha.
The consultation also revealed that the allocation for the Women and Child Development Department (W&CD), which is the nodal department for the implementation of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme in the state, in the budget for the 2015-16 financial year had been slashed by a whopping Rs 504 crores compared to last year’s allocation.
The ICDS in Odisha has been constrained with the lack of pucca building for all Anganwadi Centres, inadequate number of trained Anganwadi workers and insufficient or unavailability of learning and playing materials for kids in the centre.
While there was an allocation of Rs 839.41 crores for the construction of anganwadi building in the Budget Estimate of 2014-15, it was reduced to Rs 676.41 crores in the actual budget in the same year. The amount again decreased to Rs 300 crores in the 2015-16 budget estimates.
Vacant posts of the Anganwadi Workers in Odisha raises questions on the successful implementation of the ICDS programme in the state.
As per the provision under revised ICDS guidelines, a nutrition counsellor cum additional worker for each anganwadi centre in high burden districts and a link worker for each of the four anganwadi centres in non-burden districts need to be appointed. But the provision has been observed more in its breach.
The training of existing workers on pre-school education also leaves a lot to be desired.
As per the Fourteenth Finance Commission’s (FFC) Recommendation, Union budget allocation for ICDS programme has already been slashed from almost Rs. 18108 Cr. in 2014-15 to Rs 8245.77 crores for FY 2015-16.
On the other hand, State has earmarked an amount of Rs 2004.05 crores for schemes like ICDS, Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) and construction of AWC building this year.
But Odisha may not receive any fund for construction of AWC building under theb finance commission grant.
At present, the future of ICDS is threatened not just by insufficient allocation by the State, but also by the reduced size of Central assistance after the recommendation of FFC.
The workshop recommended that considering the severity of the implementation of ICDS schemes and nutritional status among the children between 0 to 6 years in different districts of Odisha, the state should develop an Odisha specific Integrated Child Development plan including district specific planning and implementation framework for desired outcome.
Community Score Card and Citizens’ Report Card are two effective accountability tools involving the community members, anganwadi workers, beneficiaries of the anganwadi centres and local administrators to improve the quality of services rendered by anganwadi centres, the participants observed.