DHENKANAL: At Chasapada village under Dhirpatna gram panchayat, the anganwadi is shut at 9 am when, according to the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), such facilitation centres are to open at 6 am for enrolled children to visit and get their daily dose of nourishment.
The situation is same at Gangadharprasad anganwadi centre. Confronted with a question about why the anganwadi centre was shut at 9 am, the workers concerned had no answer.
If the government’s ambitious scheme to ensure all-round development of children through nutritious food and healthcare is in a shambles, these child care centres offer several pointers to what ails the system.
Like Chasapada, at many other anganwadi centres ICDS is plagued by several lacunae _ from fabricated attendance records of children and other beneficiaries to substandard food being offered to the children.
But the most horrifying aspect of ICDS was witnessed in Haripur mini anganwadi centre where locals have asked the worker concerned not to cook as she belongs to a lower caste.
The centre is located on the outskirts of the town and as many as 10 children are enrolled there.
Many a time in the past, the locals reportedly asked her not to cook for her low class status. Even as she had to oblige, she engaged another woman for cooking and serving food to the children.
This despite the fact that there is no such provision for proxy worker in a mini anganwadi centre. In fact, the anganwadi worker pays the woman a chunk of her meagre salary.
In Dangapal village under Kanakadahada block, the anganwadi centre functions from a thatched house. Even the straw on the roof of the centre has not been replaced for many years now. This anganwadi centre caters to 15 children in the locality.
With the tube-well on the centre’s premises lying defunct, water requirements of the children is met through a polluted well.
Social activist Umakant Mahant, a local, said even as the government had been urged for construction of a pucca structure for the anganwadi centre, little has been done so far.
The members of District Child Welfare Committee, who visited some of these child care centres recently, have urged the higher officials to look into the issue.
CWC chairperson B N Pany said though the Supreme Court had directed government officials to ensure better functioning of the anganwadi centres, not much is being done.
Efforts to contact the District Social Welfare Officer Binapany Tripathy proved futile.