Grappling with a 50 per cent cut in outlay this year, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has joined hands with London Stock Exchange-listed Vedanta to modernise about 4,000 anganwadis (child care centres) in public-private-partnership mode across the country.

Concrete steps

Inaugurating the first such anganwadi, called Nand Ghar, in Hasanpur village of Sonepat district in Haryana on Wednesday, WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi said many industrialists had approached her, held photo-ops and disappeared, but Vedanta promoter Anil Agarwal persisted and said he would make a model anganwadi, with TV, toilets, solar panels, purified water, in the lowest possible cost and shortest possible time.

Infrastructure need

“It is ready today and has all these facilities” she said, adding that many anganwadis under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), which provide services like supplementary nutrition, pre-school education, and immunisation to children aged between 0-6 years, need proper infrastructure.

She said her Ministry will soon launch the National Nutrition Mission and the Nand Ghar model will be set up in ‘high burden” districts to provide targeted delivery of services, along with healthcare services for both mother and child, including skill training for women. Addressing the gathering, Anil Agarwal said the pre-fabricated Nand Ghar was built in 38 days at a cost of about ₹10-12 lakh.

“We have asked the government to identify 4,000 anganwadis so that we can contribute in construction and infrastructure. We want to collaborate with engineering colleges, manufacturers of solar panels etc,” he said.

Each Nand Ghar, whose construction cost will be shared by Vedanta and the government, will involve an area of about 780 square feet, the land for which will be provided by the gram panchayats.

The construction will be undertaken by National Buildings Construction Company, a public sector Navratna.

Lesser funding

Incidentally, in this year’s Budget, the WCD Ministry’s outlay was slashed to ₹10,286.73 crore from ₹21,000 crore in 2014-15. The maximum allocation of ₹8,335.77 crore for ICDS is also much lower than last year's ₹18,195 crore.