New Delhi: Government has decided to bring the construction of anganwadi centres under the ambit of MNREGA for creation of permanent long-term community assets in villages.
The Rural Development Ministry said it would include the construction of anganwadi centres in the schedule of permissible works under the rural job scheme.
These anganwadi centres will also serve as meeting places for women`s self-help groups (SHGs) that are being established under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission and also serve as creches for children of women working under MNREGA, it said.
As per existing norms in rural areas, there has to be one anganwadi centre for every 800 persons -- in the case of hill and tribal areas, the population norm is one centre for 300 persons.
In sparsely populated areas, there can be a mini-anganwadi for a population of 150.
"This new policy change is not only an example of effective convergence of MNREGA with other development schemes but also of a permanent long-term community asset being created under it," Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said.
This is an opportunity for demonstrating the use of low- cost building technologies using local material on a large- scale, he said.
Noting that there are about 13 lakh functioning anganwadi centres in the rural areas of the country, the Ministry said only less than 50 per cent have their own building.
Thus, about 6.5 to 7 lakh anganwadi centres currently functioning are in need of new pukka buildings.
The Union Cabinet has recently approved a new scheme for the Ministry of Women and Child Development for constructing nearly two lakh anganwadi centres for the next four to five years at a total cost of about Rs 6,851 crore.
By convergence of the funds of the Ministry of Women and Child Development to provide additional material component, an additional 1 to 1.5 lakh anganwadi centres could be constructed under MNREGA over the next four-five years, the Ministry said.