October 28, 2017 6:31:34 am
Stressing that food being served under the mid-day meal scheme and Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) do not guarantee the protein intake as envisaged, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended to state governments and the Ministry of Women and Child Development to introduce eggs and milk as part of the meal in all states. The recommendation, among others, was made during a conference organised by the NHRC on the implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 on Friday.
While the meal is supplied in schools, the ICDS aims at providing supplementary nutrition through anganwadi centres to children aged below 6 years, besides pregnant and lactating women. “Malnutrition continues to haunt India despite economic growth and these are the two biggest nutrition programmes. We would like to know from the state governments whether they have strictly followed Supreme Court orders banning contractors in supplying nutrition under ICDS? Have they made adequate funds available for full implementation of the Maternity Benefit Scheme?” said NHRC chairperson Justice H L Dattu.
The Commission also said that no child should be deprived of the meal because of non-linking of Aadhaar. For the ICDS scheme, it has been recommended that adequate food testing facilities be created preferably at the district level by all states through the public health department, universities and colleges.
For the meal scheme, it was recommended that social audit and evaluation by a third party be conducted annually for each district and the reports be published on state portals. Moreover, experts said cash transfers instead of hot cooked meals may be counterproductive and must not be encouraged as cash can be used for other expenditure. Citing Kerala and Tamil Nadu as examples, the states were asked to resolve infrastructural gaps in terms of buildings, kitchens, drinking water supply and toilets within three years, by sourcing funds from different schemes and departments.
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