With the Centre including construction of Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) as an authorised activity under MNREG Act, civil rights groups have urged the State Government to launch a special drive to cash in on the opportunity from the ensuing fiscal.
A special drive should be initiated to finalise plans for construction of at least one Anagnwadi Centre per panchayat during 2013-14 financial year.
The process of planning and approval at the Gram Sabha-level should be started immediately so that the funds can be allocated soon, said Convenor of National Campaign on Early Childcare and Education Right (NCECCER) Bikash Das.
He further said the Centre’s decision to converge the two flagship programmes of ICDS and MGNREGA had alleviated major worry of the State Government, which has attributed acute financial crunch to the delay in construction of AWCs.
The State Government had decided to construct around 50,000 Angwanwadi Centres in the aftermath of the Ranpur-tragedy on July 9 last year.
Seven children including three girls had lost their lives due to wall collapse in the dilapidated structure from where the centre was functioning.
Of 70,216 AWCs in the State, only about 20,000 have their own buildings and the rest are run either from school buildings or rented houses.
An RTI initiative by an activist, Purushottam Sahoo, has revealed that till now there has not been any planning at the Panchayat-level for construction of the centres in the villages under them.
Further, there has been confusion over two contradictory notifications of the Union Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry and Union Rural Development (RD) Ministry where the former has allowed utilisation of MGNREGA funds for construction of AWCs while the latter has not permitted it.
The confusion has been removed with the joint notification of the WCD and RD Ministries converging the two programmes and allowing construction of AWCs under MGNREGA.
For construction of an Anganwadi Centres, the Union Government has approved a sum of `4.5 lakh per unit. There is a need for taking up labour intensive construction to make maximum use of MGNREGA which provides funds in the ratio of 60:40 for labour and material components. Additional funds and requirements would be met through the WCD Ministry on 72:25 share between Centre and States.
“We have urged the State Government to take immediate steps to inform the local administrations so that planning process is initiated and the construction work starts from 2013-14 fiscal,” Das said.