Over 44,000 vacancies in meal scheme, ICDS

Government is keen on filling the posts, says official

Over 44,000 vacancies in various posts in the Nutritious Meal Scheme and in the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS) could impact the enrolment in anganwadis and in the supply of nutritious food to school students in the State. Though the schools remain closed due to COVID-19, the impact is likely to be felt when they reopen eventually.

While the number vacancies in the Nutritious Meal Scheme, which has a sanctioned strength of over 1.28 lakh posts, is 27,000, in the anganwadis of the ICDS that has about 1.04 lakh posts, it is 17,000, a source told The Hindu. When schools reopen, little time would be left to fill over 44,000 posts at once.

P.B. Prince Gajendra Babu, general secretary of the State Platform for Common School System — Tamil Nadu (SPCSS-TN), said the vacancies should be filled immediately.

“We have closed schools only due to the pandemic. You cannot expect the pandemic to continue. The government should try to bring the children to school. ICDS provides not only meals but also ensures nutrition to children,” he said.

Mr. Babu was also against distributing raw rice to students, as the entire family would consume the rice provided for the children on account of poverty or the non-availability of jobs.

“How will you ensure that the particular child gets nutrition every day? Why can’t you allow the meal centres to function and allow children to eat food and then go home? All precautionary measures can be taken. They should not wait for the lockdown to end,” he felt.

Nutritious meal organisers, cooks, their assistants, anganwadi workers, mini anganwadi workers and anganwadi helpers are not paid the State government’s regular salary structure but are being granted a special time scale of pay.

When contacted by The Hindu, a senior official confirmed the quantum of vacancies in these schemes. “The government is keen on filling these posts. We will direct the District Collectors to fill these posts at the earliest.” Incidentally, the DMK, in its election manifesto, indicated its desire to strengthen the nutrition of school children.

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