Food testing unknown at state’s anganwadis that cater to toddlers
Taking advantage of a Government Resolution of October 2012, women and child development (WCD) department of the state has turned a blind eye to the question of food testing in the 96,820 anganwadi centres (AWCs) and 10,489 mini-anganwadi centres in the state. The GR states that instead of testing the food in laboratories, testing can be done manually by women representatives from the village itself.
"For kids in the age group of six months to three years, we give THR (Take Home Ration) and for the age group of three to six years, the local Self Help Groups (SHGs) procure raw items and make Ready to Eat meals at the anganwadi centres itself. Apart from this, to decrease malnourishment, health supplements and supplementary nutrition is given to children till the age of six years, lactating mothers and pregnant women from AWCs," said Ashok Mankar, Joint Commissioner, WCD department.
"Food and Drug Administration conducts surprise tests and our department also conducts surprise tests. Tests for quality of food in laboratories is tough. Every test requires at least Rs 3,2000 and SHGs do not have money. There is no budgetary provision for departmental testing of THR. The suppliers do submit the test reports when they supply the food but then the mata samiti (committee with 10 women representatives from that area ) is supposed to test the food and let beneficiaries take home the ration," said Mankar.
Before the revised GR of 2012, as per a GR of October 2005, minimum two food samples per supplier per year was supposed to be sent for testing nutrition values. As per the audit report of the women and child development department, scrutiny of records in 19 out of 34 tests by Child Development Projects Officer (CDPO) revealed that the food samples were never sent for tests during 2007-12. In the remaining CDPOs shortfall in food samples ranged from 1.2 percent to 99 percent during 2007-12. Since October, no food sample has been sent for tests to laboratories, said officials.