THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It is not only the sprouting of private kindergartens that has sounded the death knell of anganwadis in the city.
Lack of infrastructure facilities, precarious buildings and the overall non-child friendly atmosphere make even poor mothers think twice before sending their little ones to anganwadis. The Local Audit Report 2010-11 of the City Corporation, now before the local body to take action, has made it clear that half of the 682 anganwadis spread across the 100 wards lack basic amenities. While there are three anganwadis that do not receive drinking water at all, three others function in buildings that have been tagged precarious.
A total of 29,147 children attend the anganwadis, of which only 181 function in their own buildings - 467 run in rented buildings and 28 ones in buildings allowed lease-free. While only 20 per cent anganwadis are electrified, only 18 per cent receive tap water. The worst part is that only around four per cent of the anganwadis have baby-friendly toilets. Only 106 anganwadis have compound walls.
It was during the time of the previous Council that steps were initiated to supply cooking gas to anganwadis who, otherwise, depended on firewood for cooking purposes. Cooking inside a small room, on the one side of which children played and slept, had posed a dangerous situation.
Though things are better now, there are still 407 anganwadis with no kitchen facilities. Also, many of them do not have the facility to store the feeding things of the kids, especially the ‘Nutrimix’ feed and other essentials.
Many of the Integrated Child Development Services (under which come the anganwadis) have no playing ground or playing materials for kids - no swings and toys in most of them, points out the audit report. While major funds are being spent for the betterment of infrastructure facilities, they have not materialised on the ground.
The food items required for the anganwadis are brought through ‘Neethi’ stores. The audit report says that except for the rice fetched through Civil Supplies stores, no major complaints have cropped up regarding the quality of food items.
The recommendations of the audit report say that, ‘’there should be efforts taken to provide a kid with nutritious food that has 500 calories and at least 15 gm of protein. Projects should be designed as to improve the facilities and the Corporation must see to it that the projects are carried out.’’
When contacted, Welfare Standing Committee officials said that the Social Welfare Department was planning to make some of the anganwadis model ones. Once it happens, a major change will set in, they hoped.