Smriti Irani urges all aspirational districts to set up ‘poshan vatikas’

Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani urged all state governments to ensure that all aspirational districts in India have a poshan vatika (nutrition garden) at anganwadi centres during the Nutrition Month which starts from September 1.

Irani made the statement last week while kicking off the month-long celebrations of the Poshan Abhiyan mission, which places special attention on Severe Acture Malnourished (SAM) children.

“A Word Bank report that had been released in 2010 had revealed that India suffered a Rs 24,000 crore loss due to lack of sanitation. And that the health impact on the economy was 38 million dollars. In 2018, an Assocham study revealed that a loss of 4 per cent GDP [is incurred] annually for the country due to malnutrition. The report also found that when children suffering from malnutrition grow up and start earning, they earn 20 percent less than those who have had healthy childhoods. Our responsibility, therefore, is not just providing nutrition security, but economic security,” Irani said.

“An earlier report had claimed that there were 80 lakh children in the country who suffered from Severe Acute Malnutrion. But because of the efforts you made in surveying SAM children, we got to know that the actual number of SAM children in India is around 9 lakhs,” said the minister, adding that current attempt is to bring down these numbers.

Irani held a consultation with states and union territories on three key areas – Poshan 2.0, Vatsalya mission and Shakti mission.

Pointing out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi “has always stressed cooperative federalism”, Irani requested the states to implement Poshan month in September. She said that 16 crore jan andolan activities had been held across the country under the banner of Poshan Abhiyan since 2018.

Speaking on the JJ Act amendment, Irani said: “the recent Parliament session witnessed a lot of noise and chaos. But when it came to the security and welfare of children, all political parties came together in order to pass the JJ Act amendment. This was a very happy moment for me. We brought in this amendment because an NCPCR survey found that not a single Child Care Institution in the country was a 100 per cent complaint to the Act and further found challenges that needed to be addressed in the functioning of the Child Welfare Committees.”

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