Odisha govt was aware of dilapidated condition of AWC

Cuttack: Odisha government admitted before Odisha High Court on Thursday that it was aware that the Anganwadi Center (AWC) at Ranpur in Nayagarh district, where at least seven children died due to wall collapse last month, was running in a dilapidated building.

Nayagarh collector Saroj Kanta Choudhury submitted the affidavit to the HC in response to PILs which alleged that the government was aware of the poor infrastructure of the AWC.

But the AWC was allowed to function ignoring warnings which led to the tragedy, the PIL said demanding criminal proceedings against the erring officials.

The collector told the court that the school headmistress and ICDS supervisors have already been suspended and the government was considering action against the child development project officer as the technical consultants had earlier declared the building unsafe but no step was taken to demolish the dilapidated building.

The affidavit said there are about a thousand AWCs in the district and out of the 240 centers in Ranpur block only two centers have their own buildings while the rest have makeshift arrangements.

The affidavit said following last month`s mishap a joint team of officials drawn from different departments have verified every Anganwadi center and none are now operating in any unsafe building.

It also said Rs one lakh had been given to the families of each child dead in the incident from the Chief Minister`s Relief Fund and State Red Cross Society and Rs 10,000 from District Red Cross Society.

Besides, the concerned families have also been included under `Mo Kudia` ( My hut) yojna, a housing scheme of the state government.

PILs had been filed at the HC by advocates Prabir Das and Dillip Mohapatra seeking criminal proceedings against government officials responsible for the Nayagarh mishap after conducting an impartial enquiry by an independent agency.

Subsequently several other writs were filed in the HC seeking more compensations and stringent action against the officials.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice S K Mishra adjourned the hearing of the writs to August 22 and ordered that all relevant cases be taken up together for a joint hearing.