New Delhi: Bringing into focus the lack of checks and balances in the Supplementary Nutrition programme under the government`s flagship ICDS scheme, a CAG audit has said that substandard food was being distributed by Anganwadi centres in at least three states.
The Supplementary Nutrition programme implemented by the Union Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry aims to combat the problem of malnutrition in the country by providing dietary supplements to children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
In its 22nd report of 2012-13, which was tabled in Parliament earlier in the week, the CAG has said that distribution of sub standard food by the Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) had been found in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana.
The audit report said that a social audit conducted by the Council for Social Development, New Delhi at 154 AWCs of Anantapur District in Andhra Pradesh had found that during September-November 2008 the `ready to cook mixes` were "unpalatable".
The auditor also claimed that on physical inspection it was found that some of the items had sticky texture which became inedible within minutes after preparation.
"In 18 test-checked AWCs children were reported to have fallen ill after consuming it. The supplier M/s A P Foods continued to supply these mixes till November 2011, despite reports about the beneficiaries disliking the food in two test-checked Projects," the CAG report said.
The auditor pointed that A P foods is a government of Andhra Pradesh enterprise. It added that there was no system of watching expiry of food items.
The CAG report in its evaluation of the Supplementary Nutrition programme in Gujarat said that instances of supply of flour after expiry of shelf life were noticed.
"On being returned, the supplier reprocessed it, changed the gunny bags and resupplied. The same was sent for testing after 20-22 days of receipt after their distribution to AWCs. Instances of supply of sub-standard flour having 15 gm of insects per 100 gm of flour were also noticed," the auditor said in its report on implementation of Supplementary nutrition programme in Gujarat.
Turning to Haryana, the auditor said two supply orders worth Rs 2.69 crore were placed in April 2006 with a firm to supply ready to eat `multi cereal energy mix food.`
The report said that two out of the 19 projects to which this food was supplied, refused to accept it observing that the same was not as per the norms prescribed.
The CAG report said that while this fact was brought to the notice of the state ICDS Directorate, no further testing was done for the food stuff which was accepted by the remaining 17 projects.
"This posed a question mark over the standard of serving of 14,516.20 quintal food costing Rs 2.69 crore in these projects," the CAG report said.
The cases of distribution of substandard foods under the Supplementary Nutrition plans indicated that checks and balances for ensuring the quality of food stuff were not in place, the audit report said.
"The ministry should consider constituting State level Food and Nutrition Board to ensure quality of food served to the beneficiaries," the audit report has recommended to the WCD ministry which implements the scheme.