Bridge gap in fund outlay for WCD schemes to help beneficiaries: panel

Bridge gap in fund outlay for WCD schemes to help beneficiaries: panel

Agency News

New Delhi, Mar 15 : A Parliamentary panel has called for bridging of the gap between projected demand of funds for the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry and actual allocations, warning that any gap would mean either targets were being compromised or intended beneficiaries were not being covered, defeating the purpose of the schemes targetting the most vulnerable sections of society.

The committee on Human Resource Development, which submitted its 314th report on Women and Child Development here recently, was of the view that the WCD Ministry should exercise financial prudence and devise a framework for cent percent utilisation of funds, re-appropriate under-utilised funds for other schemes facing shortage and fix responsibility for lapses. "In this background, the Committee recommends the Ministry to make realistic demands and convince the Ministry of Finance to getits projected demands met," the panel said.

While it wanted financial prudence on the Ministry's part, the members favoured more vigilance on the part of the ministry in preparing their annual action plan and presenting their proposals before the Ministry of Finance in a structured manner so that "variations in budget allocations are not observed".

Regarding the gap between sanctioned and operational anganwadi centres, the report recommended that the Ministry take up the matter of with state governments about removing the bottlenecks in the operationalisation of sanctioned Anganwadi Centres/mini Angawadi Centres and also assess the need for more such centres in urban areas. Further, all the sanctioned anganwadi centres must be run with proper infrastructure to render quality services to beneficiaries, it stressed. The report wanted the Ministry to take up the matter of recruitment of anganwadi functionaries with the states/UTs in a mission mode manner and fill up vacant positions expeditiously. Importantly, it favoured higher remuneration for Anganwadi workers and helpers and that the Union Government should impress upon the states/UTs, which were paying nominal amounts to them, to raise the amount adequately.

To ensure focussed implementation of Poshan Abhiyaan in remote areas where the presence of SC, ST, minority communities and other disadvantaged communities were relatively high, the report favoured availability of regional food items and cultural preferences to be integrated with this abhiyaan to make it inclusive. MPs could be included in the scheme's implementation for optimum fund utilisation under the Poshan scheme and better Centre-state coordination for its effective implementation.

Also recommended were wide-spread publicity be given to the sceheme so that beneficiaries could avail benefits, strengthening the non nutrition component of the scheme so that out-ofschool adolescent girls could be integrated into the schooling-fold and giving vocational skillbased training to them to help them earn a livelihood. Besides calling for the Ministry to impress upon states/UTs to ensure better living conditions of juvenile homes, the panel also felt the need to identify causes for under utilisation of funds under the flagship 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' scheme and take remedial measures. About states/UTs having lower sex ratio at birth (SRB) than the national average of 931, the report said the Ministry should conduct socio-economic studies at district level in these states/UTs to understand the causes and frame suitable strategies to get effective results.

Best practices of well-performing states/UTs could be replicated in low performing states/UTs, the panel suggested. It also wanted optimum utilisation of funds under One Stop Centre and Women Helpline schemes and better implementation by states/UTs in coordination with the states/UTs to make them result-oriented and more awareness in far-flung and rural areas. Similarly, the report called for removing obstacles inhibiting states/UTs in making their proposals for working women hostels and more publicity given to the scheme so that women could avail this facility. Another recommendation was that the Ministry take up the matter of approval of Mahila Shakti Kendra (MSK) scheme with the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal having a large number of backward and rural districts for its implementation. The MSK scheme could be integrated with Skill India scheme for empowering the rural women economically, it added. (UNI)