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New Delhi: Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission ( NHRC) Justice H L Dattu on October 27, 2017, said that while India has registered faster economic growth in the recent period and the per capita income has increased, nutritional status among children and women of the country remains a matter of concern. He was inaugurating a day-long conference organized by the NHRC in New Delhi on Implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013, in relation to children and lactating mothers and pregnant women.
Justice Dattu said that the Commission would like to know from the State Governments whether they have been strictly following the orders of the Supreme Court banning contractors in supply of supplementary nutrition under ICDS? Have they made adequate funds available for full implementation of the Maternity Benefit Scheme? Whether the Mid Day Meal, MDM budget is inflation driven or not and whether schools have proper buildings and infrastructure with the facilities for cooking, drinking water and storage of food grains?
Justice Dattu said that malnutrition continues to haunt India despite the two biggest nutrition programmes, the Integrated Child Development Services, ICDS, for children under 6 years, and Mid Day Meal programme, for school going children up to the age of 14. This, he said, is evident from India being ranked 100 among 119 developing countries on International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) Global Hunger Index (GHI) in 2017, according to an NHRC release.
He said that the recently published National Family Health Survey, NFHS-4, reflects a decline in overall levels of malnutrition in both women and children. The pace of decline is far below the progress achieved by numerous countries despite having similar growth trajectories to India. Justice Dattu said that while NFHS-4 demonstrates improvements over NFHS-3 for many key indicators based on nutrition, there are considerable inter-State disparities. Though overall, there has been decrease in the underweight and stunting prevalence among children below 5 years in all States, the absolute levels are still high, according to the NHRC release.
The NHRC Chairperson said that the Commission, in line with its stand for proper implementation of the National Food Security Act as well as ICDS and the Mid-day Meal Scheme, got a feedback on their status from its Special Rapporteurs in different parts of the country.
Earlier, Rakesh Srivastava, Secretary, Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, said that the Centre hopes to make India free of malnutrition by 2022. About 30 % Anganwadi centres operating from rented buildings are not meeting the prescribed norms but the government has instructed that the District Collectors have to review the status of malnutrition and stunting to ensure proper implementation of ICDS.