(G.N.S) Dt. 30
Proposal to empower District Collectors to allocate land fails to make headway
Over 800 anganwadis in the district continue to operate under trying conditions without their own land and buildings even as attempts to find allocable puramboke land for them continue to lag.
The Women and Child Development Department identified and submitted to the District Collector a year ago 114 parcels of puramboke land allocable to anganwadis.
District Collector K. Mohammed Y. Safirulla has entrusted the Muvattupuzha Revenue Divisional Officer with overseeing the verification process. The verification process of the plots to determine whether the land is free and not earmarked for future development projects by village officers is underway.
“Village officers will have to submit reports to the District Collector who will then forward it to the government. The land can be handed over to anganwadis only if the government issues an order to that effect,” said sources.
Village officers were busy with their work and by the time they focused on the verification process, Cyclone Ockhi wreaked havoc, further slowing down the entire process. In the prevailing circumstances, getting approval from the government for allocation of land may take more than two years.
It was to overcome this procedural delay that the possibility of empowering District Collectors to allocate up to five cents for anganwadis based on verification reports was explored in the past. But the proposal did not make much headway.
“Authorising District Collectors to allocate land for anganwadis without going back to government for sanction every time would have gone a long way in drastically reducing the procedural delays,” said sources.
Out of the 2,858 anganwadis in the district, only 1,902 have their own building while 136 operate free of rent from buildings owned by local bodies, and 820 out of rented buildings.
Notwithstanding the steep rents in the district, the Women and Child Development Department is not permitted to allocate more than ₹3,000 in municipal or corporation limits and 750 in panchayat limits towards rent for anganwadis. Hence there are anganwadis operating as one-room facilities with teaching, cooking and playing areas cramped into a single room, with outdoor playing areas and even bathrooms remaining a luxury for many of them.
Ideally, an anganwadi should have a built-up-area of 650 sq. ft spread over two cents in municipal and corporation limits and three cents in panchayat limits with a pre-school space, kitchen, store room, outdoor playing space and a baby-friendly toilet.
Land continues to be the only obstacle since there are multiple government schemes to fund the construction of the building while even private players are volunteering to sponsor. Local bodies can allocate funds for construction of anganwadis either in their individual capacity or jointly. It can also be funded jointly by the Women and Child Development Department and local bodies in the ratio of 60:40. A sum of ₹5 lakh under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme can also be mobilised for the construction of anganwadis.
(G.N.S) Dt. 30