Press Trust of India
New Delhi, 5 October
Mr Narendra Modi’s government in Gujarat has countered the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)’s opinion that 66 per cent of children in the state are underweight and claimed that this figure has declined to less than 26 per cent in 2013 due to various steps taken by the state dispensation.
“As a result of various nutrition interventions undertaken by government of Gujarat, the percentage of underweight children decreased from 73.04 per cent in March, 2007 to 25.09 per cent in March, 2013,” officials from the state government said in a statement.
In March, 2012, the number of underweight children stood at 36.07 per cent. “Thus, there was a significant decline of 10.98 per cent in underweight children in the preceding year. In 2012-13 about four lakh children were freed from undernutrition,” officials said.
Gujarat government has also claimed that the recent Performance Audit Report of CAG in 2012 had commended the efforts of Modi’s regime for the significant decline in the extent of undernutrition by about 39 per cent in a span of five years (2007 to 2012).
The CAG ~ whose reports on 2G spectrum scam and coal allocation scam, among others, have been cited by BJP to take on the Congress-led UPA government ~ had said in its report that every third child in Gujarat in underweight.
Gujarat has also claimed that the figures look alarming as in 2010 the Centre implemented the new WHO Growth standard which is based on three gradation zones. “After implementation of the new WHO growth standards and based on the three zones an increase of 4.75 per cent of severely underweight children was observed. Gujarat has fully implemented the new growth standards in one year therefore this increase was noted,” the statement said.
Gujarat government, however, insisted that this helped it in addressing the issue of malnourished children and taking them out of undernutrition. “In June, 2013 percentage of severely underweight children has come down to 1.61 per cent,” the officials said.