IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

WRIT PETITION (C ) NO. 196 OF 2001

IN THE MATTER OF:

People’s Union for Civil Liberties Petitioner

Versus

Union of India and others Respondents

 

 

AFFIDAVIT ON BEHALF OF RESPONDENT No.1,

UNION OF INDIA ,REPRESENTED BY MINISTRY OF WOMEN AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT

I, K. Rajeswara Rao, Director, Government of India, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi , do hereby solemnly affirm and state as under:-

1. I state that I am Director, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Union of India, and as such conversant with the facts and circumstances of the present case on the basis of information derived from record.

2. It is most respectfully submitted that the present affidavit is being filed in compliance with the directions contained in the order-dated 13.12.2006 passed by this Hon’ble Court. This Hon’ble Court, by order dated 13.12.2006, issued the following directions to the Union Government in relation to the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme:

" (i)    Government of India shall sanction and operationalize a minimum of 14 lakh AWCs in a phased and even manner starting forthwith and ending December 2008. In doing so, the Central Government shall identify SC and ST hamlets/habitations for AWCs on a priority basis.

(ii)     Government of India shall ensure that population norms for opening of AWCs must not be revised upward under any circumstances. While maintaining the upper limit of one AWC per 1000 population, the minimum limit for opening of a new AWC is a population of 300 may be kept in view.   Further, rural communities and slum dwellers should be entitled to an "Anganwadi on demand" (not later than three months) from the date of demand in cases where a settlement has at least 40 children under six but no Anganwadi.

The universalisation of the ICDS involves extending all ICDS services (Supplementary nutrition, growth monitoring, nutrition and health education, immunization, referral and pre-school education) to every child under the age of 6, all pregnant women and lactating mothers and all adolescent girls.

Up to date statistic report to be filed by the different States, Union Territories and the Central Government."

 

 

3. It is respectfully submitted that the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme [ herein after referred to as ‘ICDS Scheme’] was introduced in 33 Blocks (Projects) in 1975. It was gradually expanded to 5652 Projects till the end of IX Five Year Plan. The scheme was approved for implementation in X Five Year Plan within the existing 5652 Projects with no expansion activity in view of resource constraints. A copy of the ICDS Scheme is annexed as Annexure R-1.

4. It is respectfully submitted that the ICDS Scheme is a Centrally-sponsored Scheme wherein the Union Government is responsible for programme, planning and infrastructure costs and States are responsible for programme implementation. Till 2004-05, States were also responsible for providing supplementary nutrition, as per nutritional and financial norms of the Scheme out of States’ own resources. Financial norms of supplementary nutrition were revised vide order dated 19.10.2004 and it was also decided that from the year 2005-06, the Government of India would provide central assistance to States/UTs for supplementary nutrition also to the extent of 50% of the actual expenditure incurred or 50% of the cost norms, whichever is less. Grant-in-aid, for supplementary nutrition, accordingly, is being released since the last financial year. A copy of the nutritional and financial norms is annexed as Annexure R-2.

5. It is respectfully submitted that the ICDS Scheme envisages that, on an average, there will be one Anganwadi Centre for population of 1000 in a rural/urban project and one for population of 700 in a tribal project, with suitable adjustments, wherever necessary, in the light of local conditions. The scheme further provides for coverage of more than one village with small population by one Anganwadi Centre and for more than one Anganwadi Centre in a village with larger population.

6. It is respectfully submitted that in compliance with the directions of this Hon,ble Court contained in order dated 29.4.2004, as regards increasing of the number of Anganwadi Centres as to cover 14 lakh habitations, Union of India represented by Ministry of Women and Child Development had filed affidavit dated 1.11.2004, in which, inter alia, it was submitted that the figure of 14 lakh habitations/settlements mentioned in the order of the Supreme Court appears to have been taken from the survey conducted by the Department of Drinking Water Supply for the purpose of providing safe drinking water under its various schemes. It was further stated that this data appears to be based on the All India Survey conducted by the Department of Drinking Water Supply in 1991 (revalidated in 1994) and consolidated in 1999. It was also submitted in the affidavit that the Department of Drinking Water Supply has taken a population of 250 (50 households of five persons each) for identifying the number of habitations/ settlements for supply of safe drinking water. These norms are different from the existing population norms for setting up of an AWC (700 for tribal areas and 1000 for other areas), stipulated under the ICDS Scheme. It is pertinent to point out that, subsequently it was noted that the figure of 14 lakh Anganwadi Centres has been mentioned in the 5th Report of the Commissioner to the Supreme Court and has been arrived at by ‘extrapolation’ of data available in the 6th All India Educational Survey carried out by the National Council for Educational Research & Training (NCERT) in 1993. The figure of I4 lakh habitations is mentioned once again in the 6th Report of the Commissioner dated 19th July, 2006.

7. It is respectfully submitted that there has been a significant progress in the implementation of the ICDS Scheme during the last three years pursuant to this Hon’ble Court’s directions in terms of both, increase in the number of operational projects and Anganwadi Centres and coverage of beneficiaries. The number of operational projects and Anganwadi Centres have increased from 4903 and 600391, as on 31.3.2003 to 5724 and 781208 respectively, as on 30.09.2006. The number of Supplementary Nutrition beneficiaries and pre-school education beneficiaries have increased from 387.84 lakh and 188.02 lakh, as on 31.3.2003 to 654.65 lakh and 271.28 lakh respectively, as on 30.09.2006. In compliance with the directions of the Hon’ble Court, a detailed status report as on 30.09.2006 indicating number of operational Projects/AWCs, number of beneficiaries etc. , is annexed herein and marked as Annexure-R-3.

8.It is respectfully submitted that under the ICDS Scheme, Government of India bears 100% administrative expenditure and on supplementary nutrition, 50% expenditure is borne by Central Government and other 50% by the State Governments/UTs. It is further submitted that there is a considerable increase in the budgetary allocation under the ICDS Scheme from 3696.50 crore to 4543.14 crore. During 2007-08, a budgetary provision for ICDS Scheme has been proposed to be Rs.5293.oo crore. Copies of the statements indicating funds released and the expenditure incurred under the Schemes of ICDS (General) and ICDS(SNP) are annexed herewith marked as Annexure-R-4.

9.It is respectfully submitted that as per the commitment of the Government of India to universalize ICDS, keeping in view the direction of the Hon’ble Court dated 29.04.2004 and as reflected in the National Common Minimum Programme (herein after referred to as ‘NCMP’) Government of India, in 2005-2006 as part of first phase of expansion, sanctioned 466 additional ICDS Projects and 1.88 lakh Anganwadi Centres under first phase of expansion of the ICDS Scheme. This expansion was based on the existing population norms of the Scheme. A copy of the statement indicating the State-wise number of additional ICDS Projects/AWCs sanctioned during 2005-06 is annexed hereto and marked as Annexure-R-5.

 

10. It is respectfully submitted that, in furtherance of the steps being taken to achieve the goal of universalizing the ICDS Scheme , it was considered necessary to revise the existing population norms for sanction of an ICDS Project/ Anganwadi Centres . An Inter-Ministerial Task Force was set up to review the existing population norms and recommend revised norms for setting up a Project/ Anganwadi Centres under the ICDS Scheme. The Inter-Ministerial Task Force submitted its reports in May 2005 recommending revised population norms as under:

Rural/Urban Projects:

Population AWC

500-1500 1 AWC

150-500 1 Mini Anganwadi

Tribal Projects:

300-1500 1 AWC

150-300 1 Mini Anganwadi

11. It is respectfully submitted that the revised norms were circulated to all States/UTs seeking additional requirement of Projects/ Anganwadi Centres as per these norms. Based on the requirements received, 173 additional Projects, 107274 additional AWCs and 25961 Mini-AWCs were approved, on 7th December 2006, by Government of India, under the 2nd phase of expansion of the ICDS Scheme. With this expansion, the total number of sanctioned ICDS Projects, Anganwadi Centres (AWCs), and Mini Anganwadi Centres has gone up to 6291, 10.53 lakh and 36847 respectively. Taken together, the total number of sanctioned AWCs and Mini-AWCs is around 10.90 lakh now.

12. It is respectfully submitted that in view of the fact that the total number of sanctioned AWCs in the country were still falling short to meet with the goal of Universalisation of ICDS as directed by this Hon’ble Court and as envisaged in NCMP, the Central Government decided to further relax the population norms recommended earlier by the Task Force. The matter was, accordingly, deliberated in the meetings of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force which also took cognizance of this Court’s order of 13.12.2006 in this regard. The relaxed norms recommended by the Inter-Ministerial Task Force have received the approval of the competent authority and are being circulated to the State Governments for inviting fresh proposals for setting up Anganwadi Centres/Mini- Anganwadi Centres from them. - It is submitted that action for further expansion of ICDS Scheme would be taken once the proposals from the State Governments are received. A copy of the comparative statement indicating the population norms recommended by the Inter-Ministerial Task Force in its Report of 2005 and 2007 is given at Annexure-R-6.

13. It is respectfully submitted that this Hon’ble Court, in order dated 13.12.2006, has inter-alia, directed that Government of India shall ensure that the upper limit of population norms (1000) for opening of AWCs must not be revised upward under any circumstances. While maintaining the upper limit of one AWC per 1000 population, the minimum limit for opening of a new AWC is a population of 300 may be kept in view. It is submitted that the Government of India has taken decision to relax the population norm for making the Anganwadi Centers effective in its functioning. In this regard a decision has been taken to reduce the upper limit from 1000 population to 800.Since there is a wide gap between the maximum limit and minimum limit of population norm as a consequence or reduction from 1000 to 800, the minimum population norm have been fixed at 300 in non-tribal, hilly, desert, difficult areas while for other areas it has been fixed at 400. It is respectfully submitted that this would in no way effect the implementation of ICDS Scheme as per the directions of this Hon’ble Court. However, it is submitted that this decision would be implemented subject to compliance with the legal requirement in some states in which elections have been announced and would be made uniformly applicable throughout the country.

14. It is respectfully submitted that this Hon’ble Court, in order dated 13.12.2006, has inter-alia, directed that , rural communities and slum dwellers should be entitled to an "Anganwadi on demand" (not later than three months) from the date of demand in cases where a settlement has at least 40 children under six but no Anganwadi. In effectuating this direction of the Hon’ble Court , the Government of India has been advised to frame effective safeguards to facilitate the sanction of ‘Anganwadi on Demand’. For this purpose the following safeguards have been advised to be borne in mind while scrutinizing the application/demand for opening an Anganwadi Centre, keeping in view the services being provided in the existing AWCs/Mini-AWCs and the framework of the ICDS Scheme,

Demand for opening an Anganwadi Centre/Mini Anganwadi Centre should be made by filing an application furnishing the relevant particulars, including details of population, area to be covered by the proposed Anganwadi Centre to the District Programme Officer appointed under ICDS Scheme.

The District Level Programme Officer shall verify the correctness or veracity of the particulars and furnish its comments/recommendations to the State Government and for this purpose, the District Programme Officer shall take the assistance of the block level officers viz. Child Development Project Officer appointed in each block under the Scheme. The comments/recommendations of District Programme Officer shall be sent to the State Government within a specified time frame.

The State Government, if satisfied, would forward the proposal for sanction to the Central Government within a specified time frame.

The Central Government on receipt of the recommendation from the State Government and after conducting necessary scrutiny as it deems fit, shall sanction the Anganwadi Centre/ Mini Anganwadi Centre within a stipulated time frame subject to availability of resources in the budget of a particular year.

15.. It is respectfully submitted that, this Hon’ble Court, by order dated 13.12.2006, has directed that Government of India shall sanction and operationalize a minimum of 14 lakh AWCs in a phased and even manner starting forthwith and ending December 2008. In doing so, the Central Government shall identify SC and ST hamlets/habitations for AWCs on a priority basis.. It is submitted that in pursuance of the aforesaid direction , all the States/UTs have been requested, vide letter No. 14-1/2004-CD-I (Vol. II) dated 10.1.2007, to furnish a list of un-covered habitations, along with population, which would require additional Anganwadi Centres(AWCs)/Mini-AWCs. In doing so they have also been requested to identify SC and ST hamlets/habitations for setting up AWCs and also requested to ensure that no habitation/settlement with predominantly SC/ST/Minority population is left out. A copy of the said letter dated 10th January 2007 is annexed hereto and marked as Annexure R-7 ( Colly.).

16. It is respectfully submitted that, for the purposes of arriving at the number of habitations/settlements so as to universalize the Scheme, data from different surveys has been shared with the States/UTs. This data includes (i) State-wise number of villages (total number 71406) with SC population of 40% and above (as per census 2001) furnished by Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, (ii) State-wise number of rural habitations having Primary Stage Schooling Facilities ( total number 12.31 lakh) as per the 7th All India Educational Survey carried out by the Government of India, Department of School Education and Literacy in the year 2003 and (iii) State-wise details of habitations in the country (total number 15.99 lakh) as per National Habitation Survey conducted by the Government of India, Department of Drinking Water Supply, Ministry of Rural Development in 2003 . It may be noted that the total number of rural habitations is 12.31 lakh as per the 7th All India Educational Survey (2003) and 15.99 lakh as per survey conducted by the D/o Drinking Water Supply in 2003. It is further submitted that, in view of the variations in total number of habitations/settlements in different surveys referred to above, the exact number of AWCs required to be set up to cover all habitations is yet to be arrived at. .

It is respectfully submitted that the existing guidelines of the -ICDS Scheme envisage that in selection of Projects in rural areas, priority be given, inter-alia, to areas predominantly inhabited by tribes, particularly backward tribes and Scheduled Castes. These guidelines were reiterated to all States/UTs, vide letter No. 4-2/2005-CD-I dated 4.7.2005 and 7.2.2005. A copy of the letter dated 4.7.2005 is annexed hereto and marked as Annexure - R-8(Colly.).

It is respectfully submitted that in the recent expansion (1st and 2nd phase) of the Scheme during the year 2005-06 and 2006-07, States/UTs have been impressed upon to comply with this direction of this Court. The administrative sanctions have been issued to States/UTs with a condition that for location of AWCs (a) Villages pre-dominantly inhabited by population belonging to SC/ST and minority community should be given priority and (b) within a village also location of an AWC, as far as feasible, should be in the areas inhabited by population from SC/ST and minority community.

19. It is respectfully submitted that, the ICDS Scheme envisages delivery of a package of six services viz., Supplementary Nutrition, Immunization, Health Check-up, Referral Services, Pre-school Education and Nutrition/Health Education. Of the six services, three viz. immunization, health check-up and referral services are health related and are delivered through the public health infrastructure i.e. Health Sub-Centres, Primary Health Centres etc.& Community Health Centres etc. under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. It has been the endeavor of the Government of India to ensure that delivery of these health related services is made through effective convergence with the Reproductive & Child Health component of National Rural Health Mission administered by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

20. It is respectfully submitted that, the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) of the Government of India contains commitment to universalize the ICDS Scheme. The relevant portion of NCMP is reproduced below:

"The UPA will also universalize the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme to provide a functional Anganwadi in every settlement and ensure full coverage for all children"

This commitment has been reiterated in the Budget Speech of the Finance Minister delivered while presenting budget for the 2007-08 to Parliament on 28.02.2007. Relevant para of the speech is quoted below:

"Government is committed to expand the scheme in order to cover all habitations and settlements during the Eleventh Plan and to reach out to pregnant women, lactating mothers and all children below the age of six"

21. It is respectfully submitted that, it would be the endeavor of the Government of India to approve the proposal for the third phase of expansion of the ICDS Scheme by the fourth quarter of the next financial year and operationalise these Projects/AWCs/Mini AWCs by December 2008.

 

22.. It is respectfully submitted that, the this Hon’ble Court vide its order dated 7th October, 2004 has, inter alia, directed that " the contractor shall not be used for supply of nutrition in Anganwadis and preferably ICDS funds shall be spent by making use of Village Community, Self-Help Groups and Mahila Mandals for buying of grains and preparation of meals". Though, this direction is to the States and Union Territories, the certain important issues require due consideration before the matter is adjudicated upon finally. This direction of the Hon’ble Court read with order dated 28th November, 2001, is being interpreted by the Commissioner of the Hon’ble Court , as a mandate from this Hon’ble Court to provide to children between 3-6 years of age locally procured and prepared cooked meals at the Anganwadi Centre. It is respectfully submitted that as per the ICDS Scheme, the type of food (milk, pre-processed or semi-processed food or food prepared on the spot from locally available food stuff) will depend upon local availability, type of beneficiary, location of the project, administrative feasibility etc. In the light of this guideline under the Scheme, the State Governments/Union Territories have the flexibility to select the type of food to be given to the beneficiary as part of the supplementary nutrition. The ICDS Scheme, ever since its inception in 1975, aims at providing "supplementary nutrition" and not "meal" to the targeted beneficiaries. Further, the provision of supplementary nutrition under ICDS scheme is for supplanting the nutrition gap between Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) and actual Average Dietary Intake (ADI) of children in the targeted age group. The nutrition requirement under the ICDS Scheme is different from the requirement under Mid Day Meal Scheme where meal is provided to primary school children between the age group of 6-14 years. A copy of the comparative statement of supplementary nutrition and financial norms under ICDS Scheme and Mid Day Meal Scheme a copy of the Letter dt 25.9.2006 of the Commissioner to the supreme court of India is annexed hereto and marked as Annexure –R-9 and Annexure 9A.

23. It is respectfully submitted that, the distinction between "Supplementary Nutrition" and "Meal" both in terms of nutritional and financial terms has also to be borne in mind. As of now, the ICDS Scheme envisages provision of Supplementary Nutrition, and not a full meal, to the beneficiaries of the Scheme. Logistic and Financial support required for preparation of hot cooked meal in various Anganwadi Centres also needs to be looked into while taking a decision in the matter. Views of State Governments/UT Administrations are being obtained before taking a final decision in the matter as the direction of the Court under consideration is primarily for the States/UTs only.

24. It is respectfully submitted that, as per Tenth Five Year Plan Document (Volume II), Sectoral policies and Programme ( Food and Nutrition Security) of Planning Commission ( para 3.3.87), the on the spot cooked food feeding programme has several disadvantages, such as :

The children especially those in the age group of 6 months to 36 months cannot consume the entire amount of food provided because of a smaller stomach capacity;

Even if older children do eat the food provided in the Anganwadi, this acts mainly as a substitute, and not an addition, to home food;

The most needy segment viz. children in the critical 6-36 month age group and women, may not be able to come to the Anganwadi daily and receive the food;

Cooking in poor hygienic conditions and keeping left-over food may result in bacterial contamination of food.

Under-nourished children, even those in the 3-6 years age group, if given double ration, cannot consume all the food at one sitting in the Anganwadi;

A copy of the relevant extract of the Tenth Five Year Plan Document (Volume II), Sectoral policies and Programme ( Food and Nutrition Security) of Planning Commission is annexed as Annexure-R-10.

25. It is respectfully submitted that, as per the existing design of the programme, children below the age two years, pregnant women and lactating mothers are not required to come to the Anganwadi Centre every day. Instead, ‘Take Home Ration’ (herein after referred to as ‘THR’) has to be provided to this category of beneficiaries. The idea behind this is that the children in this age group are very young and therefore need not come to the Anganwadi Centre every day. Same is the case with pregnant ladies and lactating mothers. A copy of the guidelines regarding ‘THR’ is annexed herewith and marked as Annexure-R-11.

26.. It is respectfully submitted that pursuant to the direction directions of this Hon’ble Court contained in the order of 7.10.2004, instructions were issued to the State Governments/Union Territory Administrations that supplementary nutrition under the ICDS Scheme shall not be confined to children, pregnant women and lactating mothers from low income group (BPL) families. A copy of the said instructions dated 29.11.2005 is annexed hereto and marked as Annexure-R-12.

27. it is respectfully submitted that, this Hon’ble Court in order dated 28.11.2001 has given the following directions with regard to the coverage of adolescent girls under ICDS Scheme (para 6(i) 9b)

‘We direct the State Governments/Union Territories to implement the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in full and to ensure that every ICDS disbursing centre in the country shall provide ‘Each adolescent girl to get 500 calories and 20-25 grams of protein’. It is the case of the Union of India that there has been full compliance of its obligations, if any, under the Scheme. However, if any of the States gives a specific instance of non-compliance, the Union of India will do the needful within the framework of the Scheme. "

28. It is respectfully submitted that the responsibility for providing supplementary nutrition under Kishori Shakti Yojana (herein after referred to as ‘KSY’) rests with the State Governments and the same was reiterated to all States/UTs vide Ministry’s letters dated 21.2.2002 and 22.10.2002. KSY, though a separate scheme is operated through ICDS platform i.e. Anganwadi Centre. It is further submitted that vide para 2 (f) of the affidavit filed on behalf of Government of India by Department Food & Public Distribution on 13.1.2004, in response to the fourth report of the Commissioners, it was clarified that the responsibility for providing supplementary nutrition to all the beneficiaries, including adolescent girls, rests with the state governments, as per the framework of the scheme. It is further submitted that, vide letter dated 9th September, 2003 , it was further clarified that Adolescent Girls were not covered under the ICDS scheme till 1991 when Adolescent Girls Scheme was introduced in 507 ICDS blocks in the country. It was also clarified that provision of supplementary nutrition to two Adolescent Girls per Anganwadi Centre are implicit in the new KSY Blocks and the number of Adolescent Girls for supplementary nutrition per AWC would depend upon the intervention selected by States out of the menu indicated in the KSY guidelines. Only these identified girls, and not all the adolescent girls, are eligible for supplementary nutrition during their period of attachment with Anganwadi Centre. A Copy of the letter dated 9th September, 2003 along with the guidelines is annexed hereto and marked as Annexure –R-13 (Colly).

29. It is submitted that in the year 2005-06, KSY has been expanded from 2000 to 6118 ICDS projects. It is further submitted that, the provision for KSY in the budget of the Central Government is around Rs. 60 crore (Rs. 59.46 crore) in 2006-07. Further, the requirement of funds for providing supplementary nutrition as per nutrition norms, to all the 8.5 crore Adolescents Girls (11-18years) would be Rs. 5865 crore (approx.). That in view of the steep rise in funding that would be involved, the issue needs further examination in consultation with the State Governments. A copy of the statement indicating state-wise funds released/utilized and % expenditure incurred under KSY during last 3 years is annexed hereto and marked as Annexure-R-14.

30. It is respectfully submitted that to address the problem of under-nutrition among Adolescent Girls, the Planning Commission, in the year 2002-03, launched the Nutrition Programme for Adolescent Girls (NPAG), on a Pilot Project basis in 51 districts in the country. Under this Scheme, 6 kg. of food-grains were given to under nourished Adolescent Girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers. The scheme has been continued in 2006-07 also on pilot project basis only with the modification that pregnant women & lactating mothers are not covered as these are targeted under ICDS scheme also. A proposal for expansion of NPAG to all the districts and its merger with KSY, with a financial implication of Rs. 1600 crore, was moved to the Planning Commission but the same, was not agreed to by the Planning Commission in the Annual Plan 2006-07.

DEPONENT

VERIFICATION

I, K. Rajeswara Rao, the deponent above named, do hereby verify that the contents of the above affidavit are true to my knowledge, no part thereof is false and nothing material has been concealed therefrom. The Annexures are true copies of their respective originals.

Verified at New Delhi on this day of March 2007

DEPONENT