Over 18,115 children are suffering from severe and moderate acute malnourishment in the Indian state of Meghalaya.
This was informed by the Minister-in-charge Social Welfare department, Kyrmen Shylla while making a statement on Thursday clarifying over the alleged rice scam in the state.
Shylla said that a special drive was conducted by the state government for the identification and management of severely acute malnourished (SAM) and moderately acute malnourished children (MAM) in September, last year.
"Around 1788 SAM children and 16,327 MAM children were identified as suffering from severe and moderate acute malnourishment," he said.
Shylla also said the recovery rate of 93.85% was achieved among the SAM children and recovery rate of 97.53% among MAM children.
This was with intensive interventions of providing nutrition, nutrition counselling, growth monitoring, creating awareness on the benefits of consumption of THR and regular health check-up in convergence with the Health and Family Welfare Department and facilitating support provided through the Community and Rural Development Department.
"The state government along with the pro-active initiatives of districts and blocks is working towards improving the nutritional indicators of the state which has been a cause of concern for a long time," he added.
Refuting the allegations levelled against the government in the implementation of the supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) under ICDS scheme, Shylla reiterated that the seized rice from Boko, Assam was not the PDS rice meant for general distribution or as Covid relief rice during the pandemic as had been alleged.
The state government along with the pro-active initiatives of districts and blocks is working towards improving the nutritional indicators of the state which has been a cause of concern for a long time.
"This rice was allotted by the Social Welfare Department from FCI to the approved Manufacturer of food items under the SNP of the ICDS Scheme, who lifted the allotted quota for the State for processing the same into micronutrient energy dense fortified food and hence, the allegation of diversion of rice does not arise," he said.
The minister said that as per the Government of India's Guidelines dated 26.9.2014, state governments should ensure strict implementation of the feeding norms while providing Take Home Ration (THR) under ICDS Scheme which consist of a fine mix of all kinds of ingredients including the revised intake of proteins and calories as per the nutritional norms as specified in the Schedule II of the National Food Security Act, 2013 and Supplementary Nutrition Rules, 2017.
Supplementary Nutrition is provided as Take Home Ration for children who are in the age group of 6 months to 3 years, pregnant and lactating mothers. Hot cooked meals are provided to children in the age group of 3 to 6 years of age attending the Anganwadi Centres.
Since the beneficiaries of Take Home Ration are infants in the age group of 6 months to 3 years and pregnant and lactating mothers, it is to be ensured that there is no compromise in the quality of the foodstuff provided and in consonance with the guidelines for food safety and hygiene, it is with this objective and as per the existing rules of Government of India, the state government had awarded the supply of THR to approved manufacturers who complied with FSSAI registration, licensing process as laid down by Government of India.
He said the department had also engaged the services of 203 Self Help Groups (SHGs) in the procurement and transportation of foodstuff supplied as Hot Cooked Meal under SNP in the Anganwadi Centres.
Shylla further informed that the state government was also contemplating encouraging SHGs as manufacturers in the procurement and supply of Take Home Ration subject to their fulfilment of the eligibility criteria as laid down by the Government of India in its letter on January 13, this year.
"It is the state government's endeavour to promote formation of Self Help Groups at the village level for better economic growth and employment generation. Under POSHAN ABHIYAAN, Self Help Groups are involved in promoting kitchen gardens/backyard poultry in the Anganwadi Centres as well as in the community level to bring about food security, nutritional diversity, behavioural change in food habits to combat all forms of under-nutrition," he said.
Meanwhile, the minister also urged the media and the NGOs who have raised these issues to refrain from making any such statements which are far from true. "This would only demoralize all those who are working sincerely to improve the conditions of our people," he stated.