A rapid assessment by People's Union for Civil Liberties released on Sunday has found disheartening results on the state of food and nutrition provided by Karnataka government through anganwadis, mid-day meals scheme and Public Distribution System shops.
Of the 80 villages/localities, anganwadi centres in 10 areas have not yet provided rations for children between the ages of 0-6 years, during the Corona lockdown. In 70% of the cases, eggs have not been provided and 43.75% of the cases milk has not been provided to children. This report has been submitted to the High Court of Karnataka.
Only 75% of pregnant and lactating women received ration from anganwadis but not the entire quantity. Only 13.75% percent of adolescent girls who suffer from malnutrition get ration from Anganwadis.
Significantly, 73.75% of respondents had not received the Iron/Folic Acid tablets that must be given to pregnant women to counter anemia and safeguard the health of pregnant woman.
Delivery of rations to students under the mid-day meal scheme appeared to be more operational, with only 9 of the 80 surveyed areas reporting that rations through mid day meal schemes were not provided.
"While the food schemes themselves are functional and most people have received some sort of ration, it is not complete and importantly it will not last till the end of any extended lockdown. The worrying part is children who are malnourished have not got the additional nutrition they need. Karnataka’s children already face a huge malnutrition problem. It may become worse because of the lockdown," the report stated.
Prof. Y J Rajendra, President, PUCL –Karnataka told TNIE,"There is a Supreme Court and Government of India order that you cannot stop food and nutrition services during the lockdown but this has not been complied with by the Education department which handles the mid-day meal scheme and Women and Child Development department which handles nutrition through anganwadis. Food security of the vulnerable has been ignored during this lockdown due to lack of will."
Disparity in quantity of food and nutrition
There is wide disparity in the quantities provided by Anganwadis ranging from 480 grams rice only in some districts to comprehensive packages of 4.17 kg of nutritional mix of ragi, rice and green gram in other districts, 70 grams milk powder being given in some areas and 500 grams in other area, 1 kg rice and 200 gram dal for pregnant and lactating women in some areas to comprehensive nutritional packages comprising 5.7 kg rice, 228 gram jaggery, 232 grams groundnut, 380 grams tur dal, 190 gram green gram, 380 gram sugarin other areas. In mid-day meals scheme, it was found that some places received 1 kg rice and others 3 kg of rice.
PDS shops demand Aadhar, OTP
In PDS shops, only rice and wheat is distrbuted and not Dal. In 10 cases, shops were not open and in 5 cases they were open but not providing ration.
"Ration shop owners insisted on Aadhaar and OTP verification even though government said it is not mandatory. Ration cardholders are required to get an OTP by calling the IVRS line, which would be given to the ration shop owner who would then enter it into the in his point of sale (POS) system to give the ration to the cardholder. Persons without mobile phones as also those unable to get OTP due to server problems, bad networks are turned away from the ration shop," the report stated.
"Ration Shop owners force people to pay for the free ration. There is a clamour at almost all ration shops, since people are anxious to get ration resulting in social distancing norms not being followed. People are highly frustrated since except for using the phone to approach authorities and elected representatives, they have no other avenue left and are concerned about the next meal they will receive," it added It was complained that some shops mandatarily sold jeera, soap and oil and shop owners would create problems for those people who did not purchase them.