Nearly 26,000 Anganwadi centres in Madhya Pradesh are facing closure over unpaid rents.
"Of the 97,139 Anganwadi centres in MP, 29,383 are run from private buildings. Of these, 26,000 centres haven't paid monthly rents of Rs 3,000 for several months. Thus, the building owners have locked many of these premises," said Vidya Khangar MP chief of the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers.
In Jabalpur, the Anganwadi workers had to stage a protest to get the rent for their buildings from the government, Khangar added.
In Aagar-Malwa, the Anganwadi workers paid the rent from their own wages to save the centre from closure. But in places like Morena, even that wasn't possible as the Anganwadi workers hadn't received their monthly wages of Rs 7,000 for several months.
"MP has Rs 62 crore budget for the Anganwadi centres. Of this, Rs 20 crore has been paid. For the rest, I have written to the state Finance Ministry," said Minister for Women and Child Welfare Imarti Devi.
Anganwadis are child care centres set up to combat child hunger and malnutrition in rural areas. Between 2016 and 2018, around 57,000 children died due to malnutrition in the Madhya Pradesh.