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Special committee to expand its scope to benefit children of migrant workers

Rubal Agarwal, the newly appointed commissioner of Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), while speaking to The Indian Express, said the committee would be expanded to include representatives from health and tribal welfare department also.

The committee was to pilot a project in Dharni, which was to see usage of IT to track children and then suggest means to ensure the entitlements are available to them anywhere they go. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

The special committee constituted by the state government to develop mechanism to ensure migrant children do not fall off the welfare net is all set to increase its area of operation. Rubal Agarwal, the newly appointed commissioner of Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), while speaking to The Indian Express, said the committee would be expanded to include representatives from health and tribal welfare department also.

Earlier in June, the state government had constituted a special committee under the ICDS commissioner to study the problem of migrant children falling off the welfare net. The formation of the panel followed the findings of Dr Mittali Sethi, the then project officer (PO) of ITDP Dharni, Amravati. In March, the project office had noticed a sudden increase in number of malnourished children in the area located in the remote Melghat region of Amravati district.

This, it was found, was because the children, who had been identified as malnourished and put on special remedial diet, had failed to access the nutrition due to their parents migrating following the kharif harvest season. In case of Melghat, the families migrated to work in the brick kilns in Akot taluka of Akola district and returned to their villages in March. By then, the children, who had started to make gains in terms of health, would again slip due to benefits not being made available to them.

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Other than Indra Mallo, the then commissioner of ICDS, the committee had Dr Sethi, representatives of Rajmata Jijau Health and Nutrition Scheme, Women and Child Department and other members of ICDS as it members. The committee was to pilot a project in Dharni, which was to see usage of IT to track children and then suggest means to ensure the entitlements are available to them anywhere they go.

However, in the latest round of transfers, both Mallo and Dr Sethi were transferred with Agarwal, the then additional commissioner of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), being appointed in the former’s role. Dr Sethi was transferred as the Chief Executive Officer of Chandrapur Zilla Parishad. Agarwal, who recently took over, confirmed that the committee would continue its work. “This work is very important… Migrant children often fall off the welfare net as their entitlements are not made available to them in other districts,” she said.

Other than the existing members, Agarwal said the committee would see inclusion of members from the health as well as tribal welfare department. The latter would be included as they have schemes like Amrut Ahar Yogna under which special meals are made available in tribal sub-plan areas. “Other than Dharni, we would like to include Nandurbar district (in the project) as a lot of migration also happens from there,” she said.

The committee will soon start working on the pilot before the next migration season.

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First published on: 17-07-2021 at 11:59:52 pm
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