Ministers to decide on providing hot meals to schoolchildrenOctober 16th, 2008 - 6:09 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Oct 16 (IANS) The cabinet Thursday decided to constitute a Group of Ministers (GoM) on the controversial issue of providing hot cooked meals to schoolchildren under the the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme.The cabinet also approved the continuation of the ICDS, providing health, nutrition and education services to children from marginalised and remote areas and expansion of its third phase.
The GoM will give its recommendations after consultations with the state governments, said a statement issued here.
Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Choudhury had proposed that children from poor families should be given free hot meals to get them to stay in school.
The proposal was opposed by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the finance minister and the Planning Commission, which said: “Earlier experiments with fortified foods had failed to reduce the high levels of malnourishment in the country.”
Choudhury wanted that children be given pre-packaged micronutrient fortified food instead of hot cooked meals. In her defence, she had said that it was logistically impossible to provide healthy, cooked meals to children in 110,000 Anganwadis.
Announcing the decision for continuation of ICDS, Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved its continuation during 11th Five-Year Plan period, within the total plan allocation of Rs.440 billion (Rs.44,400 crore).
With this, the total number of Anganwadi centres or government sponsored child and mother care centres, will go upto 1.4 million.
“In two years, we will make sure that facilities under this scheme reach everyone in the country,” he told reporters.
Under the scheme, apart from providing nutrition to the children to check malnutrition, immunization, health check-ups and non-formal pre-school education are also provided.
As per the 2001 census, India has around 157.86 million children including 75.95 million girls, who are below the age of six, constituting 15.42 percent of the population.
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