No relief for malnourished children in Madhya Pradesh in massive take-home ration scam

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Malnutrition among children in Madhya Pradesh remains high (representative)

Bhopal:

Massive financial irregularities over BJP-run Madhya Pradesh’s take-home rations scheme, a story NDTV revealed last week, has shed light on the problem of child malnutrition, which has yet to be addressed. by the state government.

The Congress of Opposition Parties and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the alleged scam.

Mr Chouhan said the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report, viewed by NDTV, only show half the picture, as the state government “has yet to present its position”. .

Nevertheless, malnutrition among children in Madhya Pradesh remains high.

Chouhan, who also heads the Department of Women and Child Development, replied in writing to the assembly that the state has more than 65 lakh children under the age of five. Of these, 10.32 lakh are malnourished. Some 6.3 lakh are in the “severely malnourished” category, 2.64 lakh are stunted and some 13 lakh are rickety, a symptom of weak bones.

Records show that Madhya Pradesh continues to have the third worst maternal mortality rate and the worst infant mortality rate. According to a 2021 Sample Registration System report, the state had the highest infant mortality rate of 46 per thousand live births in India, compared to the national average of 36.

In Satna, one of eight districts where the audit found massive fraud in the delivery of take-home rations, some 6,000 children are malnourished.

A malnourished nine-year-old tribal girl, Sunaina Mawasi, died two weeks ago. She was admitted to a nutritional rehabilitation center three times but did not recover.

Another severely malnourished tribal child, a 7-year-old orphan, weighs only 7 kg. Doctors said she was 15 kg underweight. The child, a resident of Chitrakoot, was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit at Satna District Hospital after being found severely malnourished a few days ago.

When his mother was pregnant three years ago, his father left them. Her mother also left her soon. The child grew up with his day laborer aunt, who does not earn much.

Former Chief Minister Kamal Nath has alleged that rations worth millions of rupees have been distributed on behalf of children who do not attend school.

“Madhya Pradesh has been a leader in malnutrition for years. Yet this type of fraud is happening, exposing the thoughts and intent of the government… There should be a detailed high-level investigation into this scam and action should be taken against the culprits, responsibility fixed,” said Kamal Nath.

Last mile health workers, or Angawadi workers under the government’s integrated child development program in rural areas, said they had not received their full salary during of the last five months.

Anganwadi workers play a key role in keeping an eye on children up to the age of six in rural areas. They monitor children’s height, weight and other health indicators and submit them to the government for data work. They also provide nutritious rations to pregnant women and mothers.

In April, Anganwadi workers and assistants across Madhya Pradesh ended a 47-day strike after the government secured funds. But many said they weren’t being paid properly.

Sharada Yadav from Ward 16 Anganwadi in Aagar Malwa district said they only get half their salary.

In Bhopal, another Anganwadi worker, Abida Sultan, said: “We are facing problems. We have been receiving half our salary for five months. of Rs 5,500 was donated.”

There are some 97,000 Anganwadi and mini-Anganwadi centers in Madhya Pradesh. Of this number, 32,000 have no toilets and 17,000 have no drinking water. At least 46,000 people depend on hand pumps for water.

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