New Delhi: The Planning Commission is thinking of raising the remuneration of Anganwadi workers, who currently earn Rs 3,000 a month.
"We need to dignify the ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) workers. They are paid very low remunerations," Syeda Hamid, member of the commission, said late on Monday.
"There was an increase recently, when their remuneration was doubled from Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000. We are thinking of increasing it further," Hamid said after releasing a book, ‘The Integrated Child Development Scheme: A Flagship Adrift’.
Several other changes in the scheme are being planned for the second year of the 12th Plan (2013), she said. "Transforming the Anganwadi into a creche, and fulfilling nutrition needs will be the focus of the changes we are planning."
"Serving hot or, at least, locally-cooked food will be another focus," she said, adding that the packaged food being given at several centres was not up to the mark.
Hamid said the commission`s aim was to converge ICDS with other government programmes and focus it on overall health and nutrition. Elements of promoting sanitation and clean drinking water were also being added to the scheme, she said.
The book, which Hamid released, has been written by KR Venugopal, a retired civil servant. It is based on a social audit of the scheme in Anantpur, Andhra Pradesh. The dry agrarian district is one of the least-developed areas of the southern state.
Venugopal, who was present at the book release function, said packaged food meant for Anganwadis in the district was being sold in the market and was good enough only for feeding cattle.
"We found that the packaged food, which is transported some 400-500 km from Hyderabad to Anantpur, is being sold in the market... people say it is very nutritious, but for cattle," he said.
He said the social audit of ICDS showed that Anganwadi jobs were being "sold" for Rs 30,000 in Anantpur. In some districts of the state, the price went up to Rs 70,000 and Rs 100,000, he said.
"ICDS needs to be rejuvenated and reinvented. Lot of changes are needed and social audits will show the way ahead," he said.
He even suggested raising the Anganwadi workers` remuneration to Rs 10,000.
ICDS is a flagship scheme which aims at improving the nutritional and health status of children aged up to six years, reducing mortality, morbidity and malnutrition and enhancing the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through proper nutrition and health education.