MPs panel seeks survey on pandemic impact on malnutrition

Members unhappy as officials say data is beginning to be uploaded only from June 1

A parliamentary panel on Tuesday asked the Ministry of Women and Child Development to conduct a survey on the impact of the pandemic on anganwadi services and malnutrition levels among children.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports chaired by Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe is learnt to have grilled the officials of the Ministry on the need for data to understand “how anganwadi services were delivered on the ground during the pandemic, and to assess the impact of COVID-19 on stunting and wasting levels,” according to a member.

While the government has launched an app called Poshan Tracker to monitor delivery of services at 14 lakh anganwadis, the officials told the panel that the data is beginning to be uploaded only from June 1.

“The Ministry has not been able to satisfy the committee. It said they have collected feedback from States, but there is no sanction for a survey”, another member told The Hindu.

The Ministry also made a presentation on children orphaned during COVID-19 and apprised the panel of various measures being taken to help them, including funds for family and institutional care, revising norms for child care institutions as well as maintaining monthly reports on foster care for such children. The panel is learnt to have expressed its disbelief on the NCPCR submission before the Supreme Court that there were 3,500 children orphaned during the pandemic. “This number is not justified when we know that lakhs of people have died due to COVID-19. The figure is too low.”

Though the government has announced a corpus of ₹10 lakh from PM CARES for such children, “there has been no spending from PM CARES yet, and the responses from the Ministry were very ambiguous” the member said.

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