Govt on job for proper implementation of scheme: Minister
Srinagar, Aug 11: Even though the Education Minister has directed the authorities that there should be proper hygiene and proper implementation of Mid-Day-Meal programme in all the schools, no proper facilities, infrastructure and amenities have been provided to implement the Programme.
In fact, sources told KNS that some of the schools do not even have a kitchen shed for cooking the meal to be provided to the students. On a visit to some of the schools in Srinagar it was found that some of the schools are in the most pathetic conditions, although some others were found providing mid-day-meals to the students.
Sources said that the inadequate monitoring of the Mid-Day Meals (MDM) scheme was a major bottleneck in its implementation. Allegedly the funds earmarked for monitoring and evaluation of this schemed had also been grossly underutilized.
Sources told KNS that the government has so far failed to complete construction works sanctioned by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) for appropriate implementation of this scheme. “The government of India has raised serious concern over non-completion of construction works under the MDM scheme sanctioned during the past years. J&K school education department has copleted construction of around 7500 out of 11815 kitchen sheds while as work on above 4000 kitchen stores was yet to be started,” sources maintained.
Sources said that the central government has also observed that the quality of food served in schools under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme continues to remain poor across the state. “MHRD have raised many red flags such as over-reporting of enrolment figures, financial indiscipline, poor quality of means and inadequate meals in the state. Cases of cooking of poor quality meals in unhygienic conditions, inadequate and poor quality of infrastructure in terms of kitchen sheds and utensils were rampant across the state exposing children to health hazards,” sources said.
Launched in August 1995 to boost education by increasing enrolment, retention and attendance simultaneously impacting on the nutrition levels of children, the Mid-Day Meal Scheme was extended in 2008-09 to students of upper primary classes. The scheme is currently operational in 27 states and seven union territories.
According to the sources the authorities are not serving the best quality of rice in the schools.” There were several complaints of poor quality meal cooked by the majority of the schools in the state. The prescribed nutrition to children was not provided in schools,” sources in the education department said.
Sources said that the reports showed a consistent decline of enrolment of children in the Mid Day Meal Scheme in the state. Declining trends in enrolments during 2009-10 to 2103-14 was observed across the Jammu and Kashmir state. The checks to ensure quality of meals and adequacy of nutritional value of food served to children remained only on paper,” sources maintained.
Source further said that many scams of MDM fund swindling came to fore and many officials of education department were found involved in MDM fund irregularities. “Annually, laks of rupees are withdrawn illegally in the name of Midday meals scheme. Many schools, zones and districts provide fake enrolment statements to drain government money under MDM and many such cases have been reported in the recent past but no action was initiated against the accused officials,” sources maintained.
It is to mention here that annoyed with the dismal performance of the state government, the union MHRD has recently turned down the proposal of the state government seeking approval for new 753 kitchens cum stores under MDM scheme.“PAB did not consider the proposal and asked the State Government to first complete the construction of pending Kitchen stores and later submit its proposal in 2018-19 PAB meeting,” the minutes of the last Project Approval Board (PAB) meeting convened by MHRD on March 10 at New Delhi said.
However Education minister Altaf Bukhari said that the government is on job to fully implement it and complete the construction works for the MDM scheme. (KNS)