Anganwadis in Bangalore cry for space

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Bangalore, October 19:   As many as 35 children are crammed in 10x10ft. room, an anganwadi in Nayandanahalli. To add to this is a kerosene stove in the same room that is used to cook food by the anganwadi worker. This is the usual scene in many angawadis across the city as the Department of Women and Child Development is finding it difficult to get space in Bangalore to run anganwadis because of soaring rent rates.

As if lack of space for children to play in the anganwadi is not enough, the teacher there reveals that the anganwadi does not have a toilet. So, children are sent home after lunch so that they can use the toilet there. “We tell the parents to ask their children to use the toilet just before they come to the anganwadi and and we send them away so that they can relieve themselves at home.”

Of the 2,097 anganwadis in Bangalore (Urban), 489 operate out of rented buildings. Only 1,134 of the 2,097 anganwadis have toilets on their premises. It may be recalled that the State government had told the High Court that all anganwadis in the State would have toilets by June 2014.

In fact the department’s decision to hike the rent from Rs. 750 to Rs. 5,000 was welcomed by anganwadi workers. But most of them told The Hindu that they were unable to claim the revised rent amount as they are unable to obtain a certificate from the Public Works Department.

For instance, Saroja Devi (name changed), the anganwadi worker at the Nayandahalli centre, points out that she has spent most of her time over the last month searching for a space for an anganwadi that fulfils all the criteria.
Rent certificate

Sources in the department said that anganwadi workers must get a rent fixation certificate from the Public Works Department if they want to claim the new rent rates. “To obtain the certificate, the building owner has to submit the building plan, year of construction, land ownership documents, tax paid receipts. Based on the size of the building, the PWD will fix the rent. Besides that the building should have a toilet, water and electricity supply,” an official from the department said.

A Child Development Project Officer (CDPO) from Bangalore pointed out that not a single anganwadi teacher was able get the revised rent amount as it was almost “impossible” to obtain the documents needed to get rent fixation certificate. The officer added that the department should not insist on anganwadis getting the certificate from the PWD, and also provide the advance amount also to the anganwadis as no building is rented out without collecting advance amount.

President of the Karnataka State Anganwadi Workers’ Association S. Varalakshmi said, “Anganwadi workers will work in any building in which the department provides them space. It is unfair to make the anganwadi workers run from pillar to post for space. The supervisor and the CDPO should find space.” Minister for Women and Child Development Umashree was not available for comments.

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