Anganwadi children are forced to sit in the open in Karnataka village

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Tumkur, October 21:  An anganwadi at Hebbur village in Tumkur district has been functioning from the compound of a house for the last seven years. Though a building was constructed for the centre four year ago, the anganwadi has not been shifted there because of a controversy over the land.

With no alternative, 24 children who attend pre-primary classes at the centre are forced to sit exposed to the sun and rain.

The anganwadi has been functioning from the small premises of the house owned by Padma M.G. since 2006. There is no place for the children to play or sleep. Many parents do not send their children to the anganwadi during the rainy season.

Parents of the children say they have no option but to send their wards to the anganwadi as they cannot afford to pay donation and fees in private schools.

Girija, one such parent, said: “I’m a construction worker, and I cannot afford to send my daughter to a private school.”

In 2009, the engineering department of the Tumkur Zilla Panchayat constructed a building for the anganwadi on 52.5 sq. m of land near Beereshwara Swamy temple in the village at a cost of Rs. 3.8 lakh, under the Suvarna Grama scheme. But a member of the Hebbur Gram Panchayat, Rangamma, who claims that the land belongs to her, has locked up the building.

Ms. Rangamma told The Hindu that she had permitted the authorities to construct a community hall for the Schedule Tribes people on the land. “But they cheated me by constructing a building for an anganwadi… I will not give the key to the authorities,” she said.

Vice-chairman of the gram panchayat T. Venkateshaiah said: “The authorities did not take the gram panchayat’s permission to construct the building.”

He added that Ms. Rangamma was not ready to handover the key to the authorities to run the anganwadi in the building.

CEO of the zilla panchayat Govindaraju told The Hindu: “I will look into the issue and initiate action against officials if they had not verified the land documents and followed proper procedure while constructing the building.”

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