As many as 8 lakh fake beneficiaries have been found registered across 1.09 lakh anganwadis in Maharashtra, the Women and Child Development Ministry has said.
A senior WCD official said a total of 61 lakh beneficiaries registered in these anganwadis and of them 8 lakh names were fake.
Anganwadis or rural childcare centres were set up by the government to combat undernutrition and stunting among children below the age of six years.
The anganwadis also give nutritious food to lactating mothers. "The ghost beneficiaries were identified after registration of beneficiaries with Aadhaar," the official said.
The ministry gives Rs 4.8 and the state contributes Rs 3.2 for food per day for every child, the official said. The identification and elimination of fake beneficiaries registered in various anganwadis across the country are an "ongoing process".
The process was started in July after the Assam government during a physical identification of children found 14 lakh fake beneficiaries.
In Uttar Pradesh, over 14 lakh "fake children" have been found registered across 1.88 lakh anganwadis in Uttar Pradesh.
Stating that many lapses have been found in the food distribution system, WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi had directed all state governments to verify the number of children who "really need to be fed".
There are around 14 lakh anganwadis across the country and 10 crore beneficiaries, which include children under the age of six and pregnant women and lactating mothers.
In September, Gandhi had said about one crore fake beneficiaries registered in various anganwadis have been identified and eliminated.
The identification of fake beneficiaries is also being done through smartphones having Integrated Child Development Services-Common Application Software (ICDS-CAS) app. It has been distributed to about 1.2 lakh anganwadi centres and the ministry aims to increase its coverage to 14 lakh centres by the end of the year, officials said.
The nutrition monitoring app has been developed under the Poshan Abhiyan, also called the National Nutrition Mission, which aims to bring down stunting of children in the age group of 0-6 years from 38.4 per cent to 25 per cent by 2022.