Even as several hundred homeless families in Old Delhi live without access to any maternal and child health schemes, the Department of Women and Child development (WCD) of the Delhi government in an affidavit before the High Court has said it had created adequate anganwadis and health centres under the Integrated Child development Scheme (ICDS) and it was the responsibility of the people to get themselves registered at the nearest centre.
In May, a PIL was filed by social worker Shakeel Ahmad seeking directions to the government provide basic healthcare and ante-natal care to women living in the Pul Mithai area near the Old Delhi railway station.
Ahmad, through advocates Reshma Jaffrey and Amiy Shukla, alleged that over 300 homeless families in the area were being denied access to healthcare and welfare schemes as they did not have necessary documents to prove that they were residing in the area for over five years.
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The PIL also cited examples of problems suffered by women in the area as they did not have access to healthcare and nutrition schemes introduced by the government for the welfare of pregnant and lactating mothers and children. The plea also claimed that a representation had been sent to the government asking for an anganwadi to be set up in the area, but no action was taken.
In its affidavit filed before the court of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice RS Endlaw, the WCD said it has received no such request. It also said the issues raised in the PIL were under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. “The pregnant and lactating women could have approached the nearby anganwadi centre for benefits,” it further stated.
The affidavit also states that directions had been issued to all officials concerned that “none of the beneficiaries under the ICDS project should be denied any of the services on account of not having a permanent place of residence”.
According to the affidavit, two shelter homes — specifically for pregnant and destitute women — had been set up at Sarai Rohilla and Jahangirpuri, and nutrition supplements were being distributed through anganwadis to all pregnant and lactating mothers in the capital. The court on Wednesday granted further time to the Centre and the Department of Health to file their responses.