Srinagar, July 12 : Bellying the tall claims of the successive regimes to take the education sector to new heights, more than 35 percent of educational institutions are deprived of LPG facility to cook Mid-Day Meals for the students.
An official told Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that these schools are located in far off areas in J&K state mostly in high terrains. These 35 percent of schools constitute more than 60 percent of educational institutions established in cut off area of J&K state.
An official document accessed by KNO has revealed that only 65 percent schools have availability of LPG facility for cooking Mid-Day meals (MDM) for school going children up to middle class. While as around 35 percent schools cook MDM by using fire wood to serve the meals to the students.
“Out of 23000 schools only 14500 schools use LPG as mode of fuel to provide meals under MDM scheme. 6100 schools use firewood for the same as government has not provided them the facility of LPG,” reads the official document. The document reads that most of these schools are established in remote and hilly areas of the J&K state.
An official told KNO that the issue was brought to the notice of higher ups in the department but no action was taken on ground. “Various meetings were convened and files were prepared but no changes were visible on ground,” the official told KNO.
He said the issue came under discussion in the recently convened Project Approval Board (PAB) meeting by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and state representatives who attended the meeting had to cut a sorry figure for it.
“The officials were rebuked for their failure to provide LPG facilities to schools located in remote areas,” the official told KNO. The official said the department has also failed to complete the construction of kitchen cum stores under Mid-Day Meals scheme in J&K state. Referring to the official document, he said funds were released for construction of around 12000 kitchen stores out of which only 7000 have been completed so far.
“Around Rs 85 crore were released for the purpose out of which a major chunk has remained unutilised. MHRD has set a decline for department to complete the construction of kitchen sheds or surrender the funds,” the official told KNO.
Secretary school education department, Sarita Chauhan while acknowledging that some kitchen stores were awaiting construction told KNO that the department will consolidate the details of these schools to ascertain the reason for delay. “We will see why the kitchen stores have not been constructed till date. Any issues hampering the construction will be removed,” she said.