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Union Terms UP Govt Anganwadi Kayakalp Campaign Poll Gimmick

The state government plans to bring Anganwadi centres on par with government institutions regarding facilities and infrastructure.

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: National Herald

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh (UP) government aims to transform the basic infrastructure of Anganwadi centres under Anganwadi Kayakalp Campaign to improve potable water, child-accessible toilets, group hand washing stations, ramps with railings and other child-friendly facilities. 

According to a press release, an action plan has been chalked out to bring Anganwadi centres on par with government institutions regarding facilities and infrastructure.

At a workshop organised in Lucknow on Monday, minister for women and child development Baby Rani Maurya said, “Kayakalp of Anganwadi centres will play an important role in ensuring better facilities for children. All department officials must work together to ensure improved infrastructure, nutrition and education facilities for children at these centres.”

About 1,89,000 Anganwadi centres in rural and urban areas, providing essential childcare services, nutrition, education and health to children under six and pregnant/lactating mothers, will be equipped with basic facilities.  

Minister of state for women and child development Pratibha Shukla said, “Through the Anganwadi Kayakalp Campaign, this dream can be realised by making facilities and services child-friendly and vibrant.” 

Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) director Sarneet Kaur Broca said, “Various activities are being undertaken for enhancing the infrastructure at Anganwadi centres.” 

She added that the transformation will be done around 18 indicators, including provisions for child-friendly toilets, urinals, group hand wash units, ramps with railings, provision of drinking water, electricity, repair and renovation of existing structures and other basic amenities. “The campaign also focuses on capacity building and handholding of frontline workers for improved services.”

A baseline survey of 186,000 Anganwadi centres has been done. “Model Anganwadi Kayakalp Learning Labs are being created in every block across the state. An online assessment-cum-planning tool on 18 key Kayakalp indicators with real-time dashboard has been rolled out in the state jointly with the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan and the UNICEF,” she further added.

UNICEF’s Kumar Bikram said that a clean and safe environment is every child’s right. “Attractive Anganwadi centres and child-friendly water and sanitation will help protect children from diseases and malnutrition and attract children to the centre. All these facilities will ensure quality education, health and nutrition services for the child and contribute to his/her development.”

According to officials, under the Sanitation Action Plan 2017-2020, toilets were to be built at Anganwadi centres for Rs 12,000 each. But as the amount was less per government standards, toilets couldn’t be constructed at many Anganwadi centres.

There are 1,85,67,797 Anganwadi beneficiaries, including children under the age of six, some of them severely underweight, and pregnant/lactating mothers, across the state. While the budget for 199 more centres has been approved, the districts where they will be set up and the capacity for the assignment of workers and services provided are yet to be decided.

Several Anganwadi centres in Bundelkhand’s Banda district used to store cattle feed and dung were shut down two months ago, depriving children between six months and six years of ration they are entitled to under the ICDS.

All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers secretary Veena Gupta termed the campaign “another election gimmick”.

“According to the state government, around 60,000 Anganwadi centres are unfunctional due to the lack of helpers and workers. According to our estimate, there are one lakh such centres,” she told Newsclick

“The state government had advertised posts for 55,000 helpers and workers, but it was a gimmick. With Lok Sabha election round the corner, the government is rubbing salt on wounds of Anganwadi workers,” she alleged.

She alleged that the government had threatened the Union before the last Assembly election that recruitment would be frozen if it protested. 

“The basic requirement of Anganwadi centres is helpers and workers caring for children. What is the point of constructing toilets and providing drinking water when the centres are shut?” she asked.

Status of Anganwadi centres in the state:

Operational centres: 1,86,000

 In government building: 44,011

 In buildings on rent: 12,000

 In Panchayat buildings: 27,972

 In schools: 1,02,017

Most centres in Purvanchal and Sonbhadra regions either need their own buildings or are shut. 

“The Kayakalp of centres has been done on paper for a long time. A centre needs only one helper and one worker, but most are without staff,” Soni, an Anganwadi helper in Gorakhpur, told Newsclick.

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