While issuing the guidelines for the extended lockdown period till May 3, the Ministry of Home Affairs has made certain exceptions in the social sector including the operation of old age homes and the Anganwadi scheme by which nutrition is provided to pregnant and lactating mothers in the country.
In its order issued today, the MHA has permitted the operation of homes and shelters for children, disabled, mentally challenged, senior citizens, destitutes, women and widows. Observation homes, after care homes and places of safety for juveniles are also to remain functional.
The MHA has also directed states to ensure the disbursement of social security pensions, such as old-age pension, widow pension, freedom fighters pension and provident fund services provided by the Employees Provident Fund Organisation.
The distribution of food and nutrition once every 15 days at the doorsteps of beneficiaries under the Anganwadi system is to continue. This includes the provision of nutrition to children under the age of six years and pregnant and lactating mothers, but the Anganwadi Centers as such have been shut down, to avoid the gathering of beneficiaries there.
On March 30, the Ministry of women and Child Development had issued orders to all states and union territories to provide supplementary nutrition rations at home to pregnant and lactating women, and to children under the age of six years. Noting that many states across the country have suspended Anganwadi services, with Anganwadi centers having been shut due to the lockdown, the WCD Ministry had directed states to ensure that the rations under the schemes were being sent to all those entitled to it.
The order directed states to instruct its district authorities to use the services of Anganwadi workers and helpers to deliver the food to pregnant women and lactating mothers nad to children to ensure “continuous nutritional support’’. The Ministry further directed the states, that in case food ration cannot be delivered to those entitled on any given day, “due to non-availability of food grains’’ or any other reason, then the states will need to pay food security allowance to the beneficiary.