Nalgonda: In the State government’s plan to strengthen anganwadi centres and focus on women and child welfare, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) played a crucial role in the implementation of schemes. In all, 2,098 anganwadi centres are functioning under ICDS in the district. In a freewheeling interview with the District Welfare Officer (ICDS Project Director) B P Pushpalatha, P Srinivas explores her plans to upgrade anganwadi centres as multi-facility centres.
What are the services being extended at the anganwadis?
ICDS has been extending the services of supplementary nutrition, pre-school education, health nutrition, immunisation, referral services and health check-ups through anganwadi centres. The Aarogya Laxmi Scheme is being implemented through anganwadi centres which are benefitting 18,698 pregnant and lactating women in the district. The Collector took the initiative to develop 20 anganwadis as model anganwadis by spending Rs 55,000 for each centre under the Crucial Balance Fund. These model anganwadis have their own buildings with space for outdoor play.
Shifting of anganwadis to primary school premises was taken up. What is the status?
Of 2,093 anganwadi centres, 720 anganwadi centres have been shifted to Government Primary Schools. The motive was that the children should be exposed to the academic atmosphere from an early age, which would inculcate in them interest in education.
Incidents of girl child sale and abandoning of baby girls were reported in the district. What is the reason?
Due to multiple factors, this is still happening, despite efforts to curb such practices by government officials. First of all, we have focused on creating awareness in the people, particularly tribal people on these social evils. Village level committees comprising anganwadi teachers, sarpanchs, Asha workers, panchayat secretaries, Village Revenue Officers and school teachers have been set up. The committee members would be in touch with the parents, particularly who have more than one girl child, and explain them the benefits available to the girl child under various government schemes. We found that the tribal people, who have more than two daughters, were generally resorting to the sale of girl children and abandoning infants.
The Mother and Child Tracking System was also launched by ICDS to check girl child sale and abandoning of infants. Could you elaborate?
Under Mother and Child Tracking System, anganwadi staff would from time to time check the condition of the mother and child. As the pregnant women would generally get the benefits from the anganwadi centre, they would physically check for the baby after the due date of the pregnant mother has passed. With this, they can immediately identify if the infant was abandoned or if the child was sold. After we took up these measures, the parents, who were incapable of raising more children, handed over their newborn children to ICDS staff instead of selling or abandoning them. Our initiative has seen good results.
Any plans to upgrade ‘Sishu Gruha’ for orphan children in Nalgonda?
We earlier had two Sishu Gruhas in the district, one in Nalgonda and another in Devarakonda. Due to certain technical reasons, the Sishu Gruha in Devarakonda was merged with the one in Nalgonda. Although the Sishu Gruha could accommodate only 20 children, 40 children have been staying in it for the last seven months. The State government has accepted the request to upgrade Nalgonda Sishu Gruha to accommodate 50 children.
Any efforts to resolve the dispute between the ICDS and Registration Department over the registration of childrens’ adoption?
It came to my notice that adoptions of six children were illegally registered at the Sub-Registrar Office in the district. To resolve the conflict between the two departments, we took the matter to the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA), New Delhi. CARA has directed the police to register cases against the persons involved in illegal registrations and to seek a CB-CID inquiry, if required.