Starvation deaths: Anganwadi centre 500 metres away, Sisodia asks why sisters couldn’t access systemhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/starvation-deaths-anganwadi-centre-500-metres-away-sisodia-asks-why-sisters-couldnt-access-system/

Starvation deaths: Anganwadi centre 500 metres away, Sisodia asks why sisters couldn’t access system

The key questions asked: were the children's names in the system and the government's records, and did the girls’ mother — who has since been shifted to the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences for treatment of her mental illness — receive counselling from anganwadi workers?

At the room where the girls were found dead. Photo: Gajendra Yadav

With an anganwadi centre less than 500 metres from where three sisters allegedly starved to death earlier this week, the Delhi government has asked for a report on why the system failed them. The key questions asked: were the children’s names in the system and the government’s records, and did the girls’ mother — who has since been shifted to the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences for treatment of her mental illness — receive counselling from anganwadi workers?

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who is also the minister for the department of women and child development, asked the department to submit a report regarding the incident on Thursday. Sources said it is expected by Monday. The eldest of the three sisters, Mansi (8), had been registered as a beneficiary at an anganwadi centre in Mandawali in 2013 and 2014. According to a worker at the centre, none of the children had been entered in the register thereafter, as the family had shifted out of the rented accommodation they had been living in at the time. “What were the officials concerned doing about it if the details of the family of the deceased actually existed in the records, but they couldn’t access the public distribution system?” Sisodia asked. Also Read: Failed ventures fuelled spiral of poverty, alcohol

An official explained, “Every anganwadi has a catchment area and in a case like this, where the population is dense, there is one centre every 500 metres. So the question is, if the children were in the system at some point of time, why were these issues not flagged during the periodic survey that has to be conducted?” The last survey in the area by the Integrated Child Development Services had been conducted in January, and the mid-year survey is ongoing, officials said.

One of the reasons for Mansi falling out of the system could be that the family moved homes frequently, officials said. In the area where they stayed, there are four anganwadi centres, each of which is mandated to serve between 800 and 1,000 people. According to workers and helpers, when people in need for anganwadi services move into an area between periodic surveys, they usually approach the centre themselves or are notified by neighbours and landlords. But in this case, this did not happen.

“We are already overworked, and this family was living inside a narrow lane where mostly single men live. Even the parents couldn’t reach out to us; we needed some sort of indication that there was this family that needed tending,” a worker said.