SHILLONG, Dec 10 � Children and lactating mothers in Meghalaya are being fed �substandard and poisonous food� under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), NGOs alleged, citing a report compiled by an agency under direction from the Supreme Court.
The NGOs said that the Social Welfare department procures milk powder and malted food (Choco Malt) that is supplied to children and lactating mothers as supplementary nutrition under ICDS.
The two food products are directly procured from Continental Milkose with their factory at Noida, Uttar Pradesh. Continental Milkose is the same company which also supplies food items in controversy-ridden ICDS programme in UP.
However, random test on the food items from Anganwadi centres by National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, has revealed that: �the milk formula samples drawn from Meghalaya, having different recipes being supplied by the same contractor, do not meet the calorie norms. They also don�t meet the micro-nutrient standards.�
The tests were conducted not just in Meghalaya, but in other States too after a writ petition filed in the Supreme Court. Thereafter, the apex Court ordered that test of the food items should be taken to ascertain their nutritional value and in most cases the claims of the contractors failed, just like in the case of Meghalaya. These tests and their analysis have been submitted to the Supreme Court.
�The Social Welfare department of Meghalaya and its contractors and manufacturers swindles on an average Rs 12 crore annually by supplying substandard, unhealthy food to children under the Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) of the ICDS through Anganwadi Centres,� Agnes Kharshiing of Civil Society Women�s Organisation, said.
The Department, Kharshiing say, rather than using the SNP under the ICDS to fight child malnutrition and abysmal maternal health, has been in �collusion with unscrupulous contractors and manufacturers, bureaucrats and politicians� to siphon off money.
�Meghalaya spends more than 75 per cent of the Rs 16 crore earmarked annually for the SNP to pay illegal contractors and manufacturers who supply substandard and poisonous food,� she added.