Funds for malnutrition scheme under-utilised: data

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Funds released under the Poshan Abhiyan Programme, which is aimed at curbing malnutrition in the country, stand severely under-utilised, according to data released by the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry on Wednesday.

The data, tabled by WCD Minister Smriti Irani in Rajya Sabha, shows that out of Rs 5,31,279.08 lakh released for Poshan Abhiyan in the country from Central funds, only Rs 2,98,555.92 lakh has been utilised.

The data show that of Rs 26,751.08 lakh released to West Bengal until March 2021, no money has been utilised so far. Similarly, of Rs 56,968.96 lakh released by the Centre to Uttar Pradesh, the state has utilised only Rs 19,219.28 lakh in the same period, according to
the data.

Madhya Pradesh has spent Rs 19,219.28 lakh out of Rs 39,398.53 lakh released to it since 2019, and Rajasthan has spent less than 50 percent of funds allotted to it. Out of the 36 states and UTs for which the ministry has released data, no state or UT has completely used its funds for Poshan Abhiyan.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports, led by Rajya Sabha member Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, has raised the issue of under-utilisation of funds released by the ministry under various schemes in its 333rd Report on Action Taken by the Government on the Observations/Recommendations contained in the 326th Report on the Demand for Grants of the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, which was tabled in both Houses in March this year.

After a meeting held on November 26, the House panel said that the ministry has “left out” reasons for under-utilisation of funds for
schemes like Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Andolan.

“The Committee recommends that the Ministry should look into this matter seriously and exercise financial prudence and use the allocated funds optimally and judiciously and also provide the state-wise list for under-utilisation of funds along with reasons,’’the committee has said in its report, tabled in Parliament on Tuesday. “Unless the utilization of funds on its key schemes goes up, the allocation has little meaning.’’

The committee has stated that the WCD Ministry has not furnished information on how anganwadi centres and workers, the focal point of implementation of ICDS and supplementary nutrition, are being monitored at the “grassroots level’’.

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