WCD ministry ‘underutilising’ its schemes, need to use funds: Parliamentary panel
NEW DELHI: Notinbg that the Women and Child Development Ministry is grossly “underutilising” its schemes and no results were seen at the ground level, a parliamentary standing committee has asked it to use the allocated funds to the fullest extent and strive to achieve results at the grass-root level.
The committee, in its deliberation, noted that a new trend of ‘savings’ in the Demand for Grants documents of the Ministry, for instance, in 2019-20, Rs 1500 crore were ‘saved’ in Poshan Abhiyaan scheme, for One Stop Centre scheme, Rs 274 crore were provided and approximately Rs 136 crors i.e., 50 per cent of the fund allocated were ‘saved’; in Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Rs 280 crore were provided, and Rs 194 crore ‘saved’.
“The Committee is of the opinion that the government is underutilizing its schemes and no results of these schemes were seen at the ground level,” the panel said.
The ParliamentaryStanding Committee on Demands for Grants 2021-22 of the Ministry of Women and Child Development recommended that in view of the “gross under utilisation” of funds under important schemes like POSHAN Abhiyaan, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao etc,. the benefits often do not reach the intended beneficiaries, and therefore, the Ministry should utilise the funds allocated under various Heads to the fullest extent and strive to achieve results at the grass-root level.
“The outlook of the Ministry needs to change from outlays to outcomes and Ministry should be able to spend, execute and give measurable outcome driven results, in the upcoming Financial Year,” the committee in its report said.
The committee further recommended that the the ministry should chalk out a blue print in coordination with the Ministry of Education to modernise Anganwadis and strengthen them as early-childhood education institutions in line with the overarching goal of ensuring universal access to high-quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) as envisaged in the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020, latest by June 30, 2021.
“Suitable training to Anganwadi workers/teachers for this increased responsibility needs to be imparted in a time bound manner,” it said.
The panel recommended that computerized data relating to learning outcomes and health parameters of all the children registered in Saksham Anganwadis be maintained for early identification so that timely remedial measures for children requiring special attention are taken.
“This data should be uploaded on the website of the Ministry and regularly updated,” it said.
For Poshan Abhiyan, the panels said the ministry should monitor and upload key Performance Indicators, National Nutrition Park (NNP) on the lines of the one created near the Statue of Unity, Kevadia, Gujarat, should be created across different states with the involvement of Anganwadi Workers and awareness must be generated about the uses of ayurvedic plants for health and nutrition.
“In view of the increased cases of stunting, underweight and anemia among children and women in a number of States, POSHAN Abhiyaan should be taken up on a war footing with active involvement and convergent action by different Ministries like Women and Child Development, Rural Development, Jal Shakti and Health and Family Welfare to ensure concrete action on the ground, by identifying the maximum malnourished districts of the country and establishing a ‘Malnutrition Eradication Authority’, latest by June 30, 2021,” it said.
The panel said the Ministry should set up a vigilant monitoring mechanism to ensure that food packets for pregnant women and lactating mothers as well as targeted meals for highly undernourished children reach the intended beneficiaries at the ground level.
To ensure effective implementation of the new POSHAN tracker application, the committee said the Ministry should maintain a State-wise progress of the implementation status so that identification of those deprived of the benefits can be made on real time basis for timely remedial measures.
The POSHAN Tracker is being introduced to replace the existing ICT system (ICDS-CAS).
The POSHAN Tracker will enable real-time monitoring and tracking of all AWCs, AWWs and beneficiaries on defined indicators for prompt supervisions.
“In view of the increase in incidents of trafficking of women and children in number of States, the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, may be introduced in the next session of Parliament,” it said.
The panel said that in view of the spurt in crimes like foeticide, infanticide, child marriage and trafficking, the Ministry should work on a war footing in collaboration with the Home Ministry and state governments to bring down the crimes against women and children and evolve proper rehabilitation, redressal and re-integration mechanisms, during Financial Year 2021-22.
“Though Mahila Police Volunteers (MPVs) have been approved for 13 States, out of which it has been operational in only 5 States with a total of 9531 MPVs selected so far, MPVs should be deployed in the remaining 8 States, particularly in rural and semi-urban areas, so as to curb crimes against women and to supplement the existing law enforcement agencies,” it said.
The panel said that in view of the increase in incidents of child marriage and child labour during the lockdown period as reported in different States, the laws relating to child marriage and child labour should be enforced strictly.
The panel further said that the Ministry should conduct an impact assessment of the three bodies – Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK), Central Social Welfare Board (CSWB) and Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) and devise a mechanism to see that manpower of these bodies are not impacted by their closure and integrate them into the Ministry or other bodies/organizations.