‘Poshon’, a much-hyped ready to- use therapeutic food project meant for children suffering from malnutrition, has suffered a setback in Burdwan East, where it was scheduled to take off in September.

Senior district officials said, the wings of the project were clipped because the state’s Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) headquarters asked the district administration to suspend further work on the project soon after it was launched on 31 August, Food Day.

Burdwan East Zilla Parishad, in August itself, had, however, allocated Rs 17 lakh in favour of the district ICDS cell for the purpose. An ICDS official said: “We have been told to pause the project and we have no idea about its fate.”

According to a survey report prepared by the district administration, there were at least 391 children below 5 years who were suffering from malnutrition till July 2018 in the 23 blocks of Burdwan East district. Memari registered 33 such children, the highest in the district, followed by Jamalpur block with 28 malnourished kids.

In 2017, the authorities had sent 53 children to Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres (NRC).

With an ambition to eradicate malnutrition from the district, the authorities had planned to float ‘Poshon’. Before announcing plans to launch the project, senior administration officials had discussed the issue at length with the chief medical officer, Dr Pronob Roy. Burdwan East district magistrate Anurag Srivastava, accompanied by sabhadhipati of Burdwan East Zilla Parishad Shampa Dhara also had presented a sample of the ready-to-use therapeutic food packet prepared by a Rajasthan based agency, which the officials claimed would be distributed free of cost among the beneficiaries for six months. “All the 3.55 lakh children and 79,300 pregnant mothers would be brought under the fold of ‘Poshon’,” he had said at the time.

The officials said, the project was to have come into effect through 6811 Anganwadi (ICDS) centres across the district. Besides, the district authority, in its mission to eliminate undernourishment in the district, assigned a government employee in each block to take care of malnourished children as part of primary measures to combat malnutrition.

The district MGNREGA cell was told to accommodate the families of the malnourished children in the employment guarantee scheme on a priority basis. But after the district magistrate’s communication to the state’s ICDS secretary describing the project, the district authorities faced a jolt as the state headquarters asked them to suspend work in this respect.

Miss Dhara, sabhadhipati of the Zilla Parishad, said: “A fresh application has been sent to the state authority along with a sample of the nutrient food. We are still awaiting their response.”