The government in reply to supplementary questions stated that there were a total of 53,029 anganwadis in Gujarat and the malnourished children were inclusive of those attending the anganwadis. (Representational)
Despite the state government providing fortified food through 53,000 anganwadis in the state, which includes flavoured milk, salt and oil, there are over 1.96 lakh malnourished children in Gujarat. The highest number of such children are in the predominantly tribal districts of Dahod and Narmada.
The state government stated that there are 1,96,660 malnourished children in the 33 districts of Gujarat. The highest number, 42,488 children are in Dahod, followed by Narmada with 14,722 children, stated the government in a written reply to an unstarred question posed by Congress MLA from Dhoraji, Lalit Vasoya during the fifth session of the state legislature that concluded on Wednesday. The lowest number of malnourished children were found in Porbandar (709) and Botad (938).
The government in reply to supplementary questions stated that there were a total of 53,029 anganwadis in Gujarat and the malnourished children were inclusive of those attending the anganwadis. The government also stated that in order to improve the condition of malnourished children in Gujarat, it has been supplying fortified flavoured milk in 20 districts under the Doodh Sanjeevani Yojana. In order to improve the nutritional levels, it has also been supplying fortified salt and oil to aganwadis in the state.
The government has been providing hot breakfast and fruits to children between the ages of 3-6 years twice in a week. For malnourished children aged between 3-6 years, the government has also been giving “ladoos” as a third meal, which is a carry-away meal. For these malnourished children, the government has been giving wheat, green gram and oil for them to take home. In 23 districts, the children aged between 6 months to three years are given “Balshakti” as take home ration, the reply stated.
Despite the presence of 3,056 anganwadis in Dahod, the third highest after Ahmedabad and Banaskantha, the district recorded the highest number of malnourished children. In comparison, Narmada with only 952 anganwadis stands among the districts with the least number of anganwadis.
In a separate unstarred question, Congress MLA from Dahod, Vajesing Panda asked which agencies were appointed by the state government to conduct surveys regarding malnourishment in Gujarat. The state government in its written reply said it has appointed Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) and Mumbai-based International Institute of Population Science (IIPS) to conduct the surveys. While NIN was paid Rs 84.57 lakh, IIPS was given Rs 1.20 crore. NIN submitted its report in 2012, while IIPS did in 2016, the government added.
In reply to another question asked by Congress MLA from Sojitra, Ponambhai Parmar about the steps taken in the last five years to increase the number of anganwadis in Gujarat, the government replied that applications seeking permission from Delhi to open 1,710 new anganwadis were sent between 2014-’16. Of these, permission to open 892 anganwadis was given.