By bappaditya paul
About 18,000 Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) centres in West Bengal are functioning under open sky as they lack a shelter of their own. The total number of ICDS centres in the state is, 112,432.
According to figures of the state child development department, most of the ICDS centres in the state are operating either out of rented premises or from primary / high school buildings in their respective localities.
“Of the near 1.12-lakh ICDS centres that are at present functional in Bengal, only 27,656 have their own buildings. Of the rest, while a vast majority are housed in local schools or at rented premises; about 18,000 of them do not even have a shelter at all,” said a senior official in the state child development department.
Lack of funds is the main constraints in constructing permanent buildings for the ICDS centres, he explained.
What’s worse, half of the total ICDS centres in the state do not have drinking water facilities and again about 75 per cent of them lack a lavatory.
The child development minister Shyamapada Mukherjee blamed the state pof affairs on the previous Left Front government.
“For decades they did not pay any heed to the ICDS centres and also lacked the vision to improve their infrastructure. But now we have taken up intuitive to construct permanent buildings for all the ICDS centres in phases. This year alone, with funds from the 13th Finance Commission, we will construct buildings for 2,174 ICDS centres. Lands for 1,500 of them have already been identified,” he said.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This piece first appeared in The Statesman on 24 July 2012.)