Field reports filed by inspecting teams of North and North West 1 districts between November 2018 and February 2019 have found discrepancies in distribution of food to anganwadi centres in the capital, particularly in the supply of weaning food which is supposed to keep malnutrition amongst infants at bay.
A letter from the District Officer, North West 1 to the Deputy Director of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), which runs anganwadi centres, records the findings of a visit to a kitchen which supplies food to 115 anganwadi centres under the Prem Nagar ICDS project.
The letter states the team randomly checked nine containers of cooked dalia which were being sent out to centres — each centre is sent one container. The containers are supposed to be weighed, sealed and labelled with the name of the destination centre and the weight of food being supplied. The food is supplied according to a prepared weight indent against the number of beneficiaries registered at the centre.
The letter records that each container was short of the prepared indent by 2-9 kg. In the case of one anganwadi centre, the indent was 20.82 kg but the weight of the container was found to be 11.66 kg. In another, the indent was 19.48 kg while the container was found to be 10.84 kg. The total weight of the containers was found to be short of the indent of 150.86 kg by 66.08 kg.
“The enormity of shortage can be calculated in the entire project where there are 115 AWCs (anganwadi centres),” the letter read.
As per the agreement between the Women and Child Development department and the non-profit organisations (NPOs) contracted to supply food under the projects, weaning food is supposed to be supplied in packets on a weekly basis to the centres every Friday. However, on the day of inspection, this food was not found in the kitchen.
The lack of weaning food supply has been recorded by inspecting teams of both the North and North West 1 districts over the course of visits made to centres. These were taken cognizance of by the Deputy Director (ICDS) in April this year. Out of 19 centres visited in these districts for which the teams flagged discrepancies, they pointed to the non-supply of weaning food and the lack of maintenance of a record of supply and distribution of this food in 12 centres. This food is meant to be given to children between the ages of 7 months and 1 year.
Other discrepancies have also been recorded and reported, along with the repeated red-flagging of under-supply of cooked food. In a visit to a centre in Rohini on November 2018, the team found 5 kg of cooked food was supplied, while the label on the container stated it was 10.2 kg.
At the same centre, it was found the registers recording the weight of beneficiary children to track nutrition had not been updated in two years. At a centre in Mangolpuri this February, the cooked food supplied was 8 kg less than the indent. At the Wazirpur centre, the team noted that apart from no record of weaning food supply and distribution, a dog was tied in the kitchen. The centre had no working RO water supply machine, fire extinguisher or first-aid box.
WCD director S B Shashank issued orders to officers to “check deficiencies, discrepancies, shortage, inadequacies, etc which are a source of pilferage and financial bungling.” The order came with an observation that “most field inspection reports by officers are very routine, whereas deficiencies and discrepancies are hardly mentioned.”