New Delhi, Oct 5 (ANI): Taking a jibe at Narendra Modi over CAG's report that every third child in Gujarat is underweight, Janata Dal-United (JD-U) chief Sharad Yadav on Saturday said the BJP-ruled state has nearly a million tribal people, who do not have basic access to health and food.
"Gujarat has about one crore ten lakh tribals living in the region. They do not have access to properly built houses and are forced to live in makeshift houses. Malnourished children come from these areas, as they do not have access to healthy living or eating. Most of the people from India do not even know about the existence of such areas," he said.
Gujarat Health Minister Jay Narayan Vyas, defending the government and its schemes, said that the state is constantly engaged in upliftment of the downtrodden.
"I am sure that the steps which are being implemented now, lessons of from experience of success in past, will further bring down the malnutrition and Gujarat will be one of the most progressive states as far fight against malnutrition is concerned," said Vyas in Ahmedabad.
"Having said this, let us also not forget that out of the total population of Gujarat, 15 percent is tribal population and 7 percent is scheduled caste and scheduled tribe and therefore the hilly and tribal areas, which are in the northwestern region in Gujarat, have acute problems as elsewhere. Even taking that together, Gujarat's average fares better," he added.
The CAG on Friday released its report of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in Gujarat, which is aimed at fighting malnutrition among children, and concluded that every third child in the state is underweight.
"Though there were 223.16 lakh eligible beneficiaries under Supplementary Nutrition (SN) programme under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), 63.37 lakh beneficiaries were left out," the CAG said in its report, which was tabled in the state Assembly on October 4.
"As against the target of 300 nutrition days annually, shortfall in providing SN was up to 96 days. Every third child in the state was reported as underweight. Shortfall of 27 per cent to 48 per cent was noticed in the implementation of nutrition programme for adolescent girls," the report added.
The CAG report also concluded that the Gujarat population of 1.87 crore was deprived of the benefits of ICDS.
In November 2008, the Centre had directed the Gujarat government to submit a proposal for additional projects based on the revised population criteria, however, the state failed to do so.
ICDS was launched in 1975 by the Central Government to endorse the all-round development of children, -up to the age of six-expectant and lactating mothers and adolescent girls through package services comprising of nutrition, immunisation, health check-ups, health education and informal education of young children.
ICDS, which was funded entirely by the Centre till 2009, is now sponsored 10 percent by the state and 90 percent by the Centre. (ANI)