Mumbai: Even as a shocking number of malnutrition deaths is reported from Nashik alone, much of the Rs 600 crore child welfare budget seems to have been spent on expensive toys.
In commodity purchases that seem to give direct competition to the Organising Committee's orders for the Commonwealth Games (CWG), the State Women and Child Development department spent Rs 13,801 each for a set of four steel utensils consisting of a bucket, mug, jug and water drum last year.
It also spent Rs 2.54 crore in one month on registers for recording details of food items and the growth of kids at anganwadis, at the rates of a whopping Rs 52.30 for a 100-page register, and Rs 136.50 for a 300-page one.
What puts the department head-and-shoulders above the CWG organising committee is, however, that if the Organising Committee (OC) allegedly swindled crores from general accounts, the department may have fudged expenses from money reserved for the welfare of underprivileged children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years, and pregnant women.
This, when nearly 450 kids have died of malnutrition-related reasons in the last four months in Nashik district alone where more than one lakh malnutrition cases have been reported.
These mind-numbing facts and figures have been revealed through copies of the purchase orders of the department for 2010-11 accessed by Mid-Day.com.
The documents go on to tell a sordid tale of various items being purchased for prices more than four or five times their price in the market despite the department buying them in bulk (see box).
In a meeting held recently of the women and child development committee, the district health officer for Nashik reportedly revealed that over 450 children had died due to malnutrition and close to one lakh were found malnourished.
Vidarbha is no better with 47,000 children being found malnourished in the Bhandara, Gondia, Chandrapur and Gadchiroli districts alone.
The approximate number of Anganwadi centers in the state where children from the age group of 6 months to 6 years, and pregnant women, are provided nutritious food and shelter with regular check-ups
Rs 600 cr
The budget allotted to the women and child welfare department last year
Rs 2.54 cr
Money spent on purchasing registers to record details of the food items provided to the children and their growth stats. The multi-crore order, issued in March this year alone, was at the rate of Rs 52.30 for a 100-page register and Rs 136.50 for a 300-page register
Price paid for each bottle of multi-vitamin syrup in 2011, up from Rs 18 in 2010
Was spent for each set of utensils a bucket, jug, mug and a steel drum for the kids. Orders worth Rs 5.21 crore were issued in 2010
Price paid for each of 3,202 weighing machines
The day most of these orders were issued, possibly to prevent funds from lapsing at the end of the fiscal year