The government will make Aadhaar registration compulsory for children availing food under the National Nutrition Mission. The 12-digit identity card number is required to enable a new tracking system to monitor children and pregnant and lactating women.

The idea is also to eliminate “fake children” and reduce wastage of resources, said Minister of Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi.

Gandhi said that in Assam alone, where the government conducted a survey, officials found three lakh registered names to be fake. That meant a wastage of Rs 30 lakh a day, she said.

While it is compulsory for each child to have an Aadhaar card, no child will be denied service at any anganwadi, Women and Child Development Secretary Rakesh Shrivastava said.

“But simultaneously, the Anganwadi worker will get the child’s Aadhaar made,” Shrivastava said. “We are giving an incentive of Rs 500 to the Anganwadi workers. Six-month-old babies can get an Aadhaar number by linking it to the mother’s Aadhaar card.”

The minister suggested lowering the age of registration. “We should be doing [registering] Aadhaar for children much younger than five,” Gandhi said. “We can use it to prevent pilferage and remove fake children.”

Unique Identification Authority of India rules prohibit the recording of biometrics of children below the age of five. The registration of Aadhaar is processed through the parent’s Aadhaar.

Tackling malnutrition in the country

The Cabinet has approved a budget of Rs 9,046 crore for the setting up of the National Nutrition Mission that aims to reduce malnutrition of children in the country. While the nodal agency for the Mission will be the Ministry of Women and Child Development, it will collaborate with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Water and Sanitation and Niti Aayog.

The mission will reduce malnutrition levels by 2% every year, said Gandhi.

Real-time monitoring

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has developed a real-time monitoring system to monitor the aganwadi centres, Shrivastava said. It has conducted a pilot project using the technology in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. The project will now be expanded to 315 districts.