Karnataka unveils scheme to feed 12 lakh pregnant women

Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday launched the “Mathru Purna” scheme, which aims to provide nutritious meals to about 12 lakh pregnant women and lactating mothers in the state.

“The scheme aims at reducing under-nutrition among women and children,” the Chief Minister said while announcing the launch of the scheme here, serving food to pregnant women in the banquet hall of Vidhan Soudha, the state secretariat.

“Besides nutritional supplements, counselling and other maternity benefits will also be provided at the Anganwadi centres under the scheme,” Siddaramaiah said.

A provision of Rs 302 crore has been made by the state government during the 2017-18 financial year for the implementation of the scheme in all the 30 districts of Karnataka.

“We’ve had phenomenal response from the pilot run of the scheme in four taluks last year, and have decided to roll out the project across the state,” Karnataka state Women and Child Development Minister Umashree told IANS here on Monday.

One hot cooked meal consisting of rice, dal with leafy vegetables/sambar, a boiled egg/sprouted legumes along with 200 ml of milk would be provided to women for 25 days a month, according to an official release.

“Despite the Supplementary Nutrition Programme (of the Ministry of Women and Child Development), the improvement in the maternal and child health indicators of Karnataka has been slow compared to the rest of the south Indian states,” the statement said, giving the reason to launch the “Mathru Purna” scheme.

The scheme aims to bridge the gap between the recommended dietary allowance and the average daily intake of pregnant women and lactating mothers in the state, while trying to reduce the prevalence of anaemia among the pregnant women.

Aanganwadi workers would also benefit from the scheme, according to the statement.

But the implementation of the scheme had many challenges, said S. Varalakshmi, the president of the Karnataka State Anganwadi Workers’ Association.

“In a lot of Anganwadi centres, we are very short-staffed, with just one worker and a helper. It makes it very hard for such centres to cook these meals and provide,” Varalakshmi told IANS.

A lot of women hesitated to take meals that were cooked by a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe Anganwadi worker, she said.

“We’ve seen during the mid-day meal scheme implementation that many children are kept away from eating the meals if they are prepared by an SC or ST worker. In case of a pregnancy, the customs are even more deep-rooted in the society,” she added.

“This is the reason we’ve asked to see the results of the pilot run. Without results, there is no use putting in all the effort,” she said.

Walking all the way to the Anganwadi centre was not very convenient for many pregnant women in many regions of the state, she added.