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India launches scheme to enhance nutrition among girls

Aug 17, 2010

The Government of India recently accepted a proposal to provide nutritional diet and financial aid to adolescent girls. The new scheme, SABLA, which will initially be rolled out in select 200 districts of the country, will provide take home ration for these girls.

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In a move aimed at empowering girls in the age group of 11 to 18 years, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Monday gave its approval for implementation of the Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls - SABLA - in select 200 districts spanning all states and Union Territories.

The scheme was recommended by the group of ministers and aims to enhance the nutritional and economic status of adolescent girls.

"These districts will be selected using a set of indicators and will be a combination in equal proportion of good performing, moderate and not so well performing districts in all the states,'' said a statement issued by the government.

An allocation of Rs 4,500 crore has been made for implementing the scheme during the remaining period of the XI Five Year Plan. For 2010-11, a provision of Rs 1,000 crore has been made in the budget.

"Adolescent girls (AGs) will be provided Take Home Ration (THR) under the scheme. However, if any state/UT insists on providing hot cooked meal, standards should be set for the same,'' added the statement.

Separately, the ministry of women and child development will explore feasibility of implementing Conditional Cash Transfer scheme as an alternative for AGs in 100 more districts. The cash transfer will be made contingent on the conditions to be fulfilled which will need to be laid down clearly and which should be implementable.

The scheme envisages reaching out to adolescent girls at Anganwadi centres, run under the World Bank-assisted Integrated Child Development Projects, in various states. In the initial years of the scheme, the government expects to cover 92 lakh to 1.15 crore adolescent girls per annum. 

The scheme will entail 50:50 sharing between the Centre and the states for the nutrition provision (600 calroies and 18-20 grams of protein). The cost per girl will be Rs 5 per day for 300 days in a year. There is also a provision for Rs 3.80 lakh per ICDS project per annum for various components of the scheme like training kit at each anganwadi centre, national health education, life skill education, purchase of iron folic acid amongst other things.

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