The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has said that an Aadhaar number is essential to avail of the supplementary nutrition scheme under the Integrated Child Development Scheme. Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said the digitisation of the scheme will help the government identify the beneficiaries.
To ensure no child is deprived of supplementary nutrition due to a lack of Aadhaar number, a mother’s Aadhaar card can be accessed to avail its benefits. Out of 11,47,12,650 children below 5 years of age, 3,16,70,612 children have been issued Aadhaar numbers till June 30.
The Kerala State Communist Party Rajya Sabha member Binoy Viswam has raised questions against the scheme. “What is the need to link Aadhaar card for supplementary nutrition scheme? Does the Ministry know that 70 per cent of children in the country cannot be registered as beneficiaries due to this practice? What is the number of children below 6 years of age who have Aadhaar card? What is the number of fake users detected so far in 2018?,” he asked.
As a reply, Irani wrote to the Rajya Sabha, “Supplemental nutrition programme offered at Anganwadi centres covers ongoing expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India. Therefore, as per the provisions of Section-7 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, the ministry notified the supplemental nutrition scheme. Digitization of the scheme will help the Ministry to identify the beneficiaries.
Supplemental nutrition programme is implemented to bridge the gap between recommended dietary allowance and average daily intake for children, pregnant and lactating mothers. It is one of the six services under the Integrated Child Development Programme and has been converted into a right under the National Food Security Act.
All children below 6 years of age, pregnant women and lactating mothers are eligible for services. There is no criterion that only those below the poverty line should be enrolled as beneficiaries under the Integrated Child Development Scheme. The scheme is common to all categories of beneficiaries.