Patna: Bihar plans to conduct a social audit of the government-run anganwadi centres (AWC) to check complaints about corruption and to bring transparency in the functioning of the child-care and mother-care centres.
"In view of reports of irregularities at different centres, the department (Bihar Social Welfare Department-BSWD) has decided to make its functioning transparent by conducting a social audit," Bihar Social Welfare Minister Parween Amanullah said Tuesday.
It will take a month`s time for the department to start a social audit of AWCs, she said. As a first step, the department has decided to map all panchayats in the state.
The anganwadis are government-sponsored child-care and mother-care centres catering to children in the 0-6 age group. They were started by the Indian government in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services programme to combat child hunger and malnutrition.
The minister said a meeting of the villagers of the panchayat where an anganwadi centre is situated will be held to make public everything related to the centre. It will be named as `Labhuk Sabha`. Besides, information related to performance of the centre would be taken from the villagers.
The BSWD officials and social activists will be special invitees in the meeting to give a hearing to villagers` grievances or corruption complaints, if any, about the performance of the centre, officials said.
Parents of the children going to the centre will be asked to give their suggestions for the smooth and successful running of the centre.
"This will be a unique attempt by the department to make a welfare scheme transparent," a BSWD official said.
Amanullah admitted that there were reports of irregularities at the time of distribution of take-home rations and other things at the centre.
Last year and in 2009, the department had suspended over two dozen Child Development Project Officers (CDPOs) and instituted departmental inquiries against them over charges of dereliction of duty and corruption.
CDPOs are the immediate heads of anganwadi kendras and play a vital role in appointment of anganwadi supervisors and sevikas, besides being the fund-regulating authority.
It was widely reported that despite vigilance units and grievances cells in place in every district, the social welfare department had been unable to address numerous complaints regarding several CDPOs demanding "Rs.1,000 to Rs.2,500" from every anganwadi kendra for release of the monthly disbursement of Rs.10,900.
Every month, more than 80,000 anganwadi centres in Bihar get over Rs.88.28 crore at the rate of Rs.10,900 per centre. The state has 544 CDPOs and 38 District Project Officers (DPOs) under the Integrated Child Development Scheme.
The ICDS aims at improving the nutritional and health status of children in the age group of 0-6 years, reducing incidents of child mortality and school drop-outs, and enhancing the capability of mothers to look after normal health, primary education and nutritional needs of her children.
It is a centrally-sponsored scheme with state governments contributing towards 50 percent of supplementary nutrition cost.