BALASORE: A thatched roof supported by eight thin concrete pillars is all that the anganwadi centre in Syamsundarpur village under Simulia block has. There are over 500 more anganwadi centres in Balasore district that share similar fate.
The district administration seems not to have learnt from the death of seven children in wall collapse at an anganwadi centre in Nayagarh three years back. Immediately after the accident, the State Government had directed authorities concerned in every district to construct permanent structures to house anganwadi centres in a phased manner. Even after three years of the directive, anganwadi centres in Balasore district paint a gloomy picture. More than 80 per cent of anganwadi centres in the district do not have permanent building.
Of 4,080 anganwadi centres in the district, 3,228 function from temporary structures. While 517 centres are operating from unsafe structures, only 852 centres have own buildings while 238 buildings are under construction.
The unsafe anganwadi centres mostly function from shacks. Those centres operate from cowsheds, club houses, Bhagabat Tungis and even under trees. The ones that have buildings lack local drinking water facilities and lavatories. The enrolment of anganwadi centres stands at 2,52,624 beneficiaries including children and pregnant women. There are 1,01,918 children in the age group of six months to three years, 1,09,900 children of three to six years, 19,341 pregnant women and 21,465 lactating mothers.
Consider this: The Centre had allotted funds for construction of 1,773 anganwadi centres in the district in 2011. It had sanctioned `five lakh for each of the centres. In these four years, only 620 houses have been completed. Apparently, not a single centre under Balasore Municipality has a permanent building.
According to official reports, 192 centres of total 328 in Nilagiri block have own building, followed by 95 of 528 in Bhogarai, 84 of 363 in Jaleswar, 75 of 352 in Remuna, 69 of 339 in Khaira, 56 of 245 in Bahanaga, 56 of 325 in Soro, 49 of 398 in Balasore Sadar, 49 of 213 in Simulia, 48 of 382 in Baliapal, 44 of 322 in Basta and 35 of 170 anganwadi centres in Oupada block. While only three centres in Balialpal block have electricity connection, the rest 4,077 centres do not have power supply.
Similarly, only 213 centres have drinking water facilities and 131 have toilets. Not a single centre in Sadar, Nilagiri, Simulia blocks and Balasore Municipality has a lavatory.
Social activist Dilip Parida alleged that many of the anganwadi centres are lying in a dilapidated condition and operate under unhygienic condition without having drinking water facilities and lavatories.
District Social Welfare officials, who look into construction of the anganwadi centres, said construction was delayed due to non-finalisation of land, political interference and lack of Palli Sabha approval.
Sub-Collector Ramachandra Palta said BDOs have been entrusted to complete construction of anganwadi centres and will be responsible if the work is not over by the end of March next year.