Assam: 14 Lakh ‘Fake Children’ In Anganwadi, Says Maneka Gandhi
On August 23, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said that a recent state-level inquiry has revealed that there are 14 lakh “fake children” in Assam’s beneficiary list of Anganwadis. Following this revelation, the Centre has asked states to clear such ghost beneficiaries from the list of India’s 10 crore anganwadi beneficiaries.
14 lakh fake anganwadi beneficiaries
According to The Indian Express, Maneka Gandhi was addressing a conference on Rashtriya Poshan Maah (national nutrition month), where she said, “thanks to Assam we found out how many children are really being fed in ‘anganwadis.’ In the initial survey last year, it was found that there are 3 lakh fake children. Now again another survey in June 2018 has revealed that there is actually 14 lakh fake children.” She added, “the beneficiary lists were inflated by ground-level workers and this led to pilferage and leakage of funds.”
As a part of the Poshan month, the government is set to conduct a number of nutrition-based programmes. According to NDTV, she said, “POSHAN Abhiyaan will uproot the shortcomings prevailing in the health sector in our nation. For this, I urge stakeholders to streamline the system and check the actual beneficiaries of this campaign.” The Poshan Abhiyaan was launched by Prime Minister Modi earlier in 2018 which targets to bring down stunting and malnutrition among children.
Reportedly, under the Integrated Child Development Services scheme, 4 lakh ‘anganwadis’ provide home rations to a total of 4.6 crore infants and 1.9 crore mothers while providing hot cooked meals to 3.6 crore children aged between three and six years. Gandhi has also asked the states to carry out surveys during September, so that money comes back to the government which is going to help provide better quality food.
Numbers fewer than 14 lakh
However, on August 24, Assam Social Welfare Minister Pramila Rani Brahma said that the number of fake children listed in the state’s beneficiary list is anywhere between six to nine lakhs and not 14 lakhs as was mentioned by Maneka Gandhi, reported The Hindu.
She also put the blame of the inflated figures on State’s former Social Welfare Director S.S. Meenakshi Sundaram who had reportedly submitted the report to the Centre without the knowledge of his superiors, just a couple of days before he was transferred to another department.
She told the daily, “there are about 44 lakh beneficiaries in Assam’s 62,000 Anganwadi centres. The actual figure was found to be 35 lakh during a headcount, and this was in a report by Mr Sundaram earlier. So the ‘ghost’ beneficiaries turned out to be 9 lakh.” She has also asked the department to find out how Sundaram arrived at the figures.