New Delhi: The Centre will not offer money to beneficiaries in place of take-home rations provided at Anganwaris as proposed earlier, state governments have been told.
The government’s think-tank NITI Aayog in its national nutrition strategy had recommended initiating pilot schemes in a few districts to test if cash transfers could replace the provision of take-home rations and supplementary nutrition as part of its Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) to plug leakages.
Under the ICDS, the government provides food, pre-school education and primary health care at Anganwari centres.
As part of the government scheme, a child between six months and three years of age, as well as pregnant and lactating mothers till six months after delivery, get take- home rations. Children in the 3-6 year age group get hot- cooked meals.
The Centre’s stand on the issue was clarified after Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Rajive Kumar sought permission from the government to start conditional cash transfers.
“The matter has been debated at length in this ministry and at present there is no such proposal for introducing conditional cash transfer in lieu of take home ration,” wrote Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry Secretary R K Shrivastava in response to the request from UP.
The letter dated February 12 was also marked to the chief secretaries of all states and union territories.
A spokesperson of the WCD ministry said the proposal to start cash transfers was struck down when the Cabinet approved the National Nutrition Mission in December last year.
When asked why the proposal was scrapped, the official said there was no way to ensure that the cash transferred would be used for nutrition by the beneficiaries and not for any other purpose.
The NITI Aayog, in its report last September, had said the take-home ration (THR), scheme “has been plagued with complaints of leakages, poor quality food supplement and vested interests and needs to be looked afresh… Pilots may be initiated in a few districts to test the efficacy of implementing the ICDS supplementary nutrition component through a cash transfer/conditional cash transfer route”.
WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi had vehemently opposed cash transfers on the ground that a mother would not be able to buy adequate food if she were given the same cash amount that was used to procure rations at wholesale rates.
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