Karnataka didn't use even a rupee of nutrition funds

Karnataka, that is battling malnutrition in several districts, has not utilised a single rupee out of the Rs 132.21 crore released by the Union government for a nationwide nutrition scheme.

POSHAN Abhiyaan (Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition) is being implemented at a snail’s pace in the state and going by the statistics provided by the ministry of women and child development, not a single rupee has been utilised by the state till March 2019.

What is envisioned to be ‘Jan Andolan’ or people’s movement, is said to monitor the nutrition status, fix targets and design guidelines to address malnourishment among pregnant women, lactating mothers and children.

Goa is the other state that has not utilised funds that have been provided under the scheme from 2017-2019. 

An amount of Rs 19 lakh per district has been allocated to the states just for creating awareness about the programme alone.

Statistics provided by the office of Smriti Irani cite that in Karnataka, there are nine districts where stunting is seen among children below the age of five. There are 11 districts where women have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 18.5 which is the normal range. These include women from 15 to 49, many of who fall in the reproductive age.

Reacting to this, Jaimala Ramachandra, Karnataka Minister for Women and Child Development, said that it was untrue that Karnataka had not commenced any work.

“We have trained all our Anganwadi staff and ground workers to efficiently implement this. However, there were several challenges involved. We did not get the funds on time for all the districts and this was one of the reasons for the delay,” she claimed.

She added that when they sought implementation of POSHAN Abhiyan, they did not sanction the money immediately. Jaimala said there were curbs on where to source equipment from.

Elections, she said, was another hindrance. When the tenders were called the first time, only one responded, mandating them to call tenders again. The election commission denied permission for it while the code of conduct was in force, she explained.

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