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No mid-day meals for kids in 10 states

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  • Shaji John K
    No mid-day meals for kids in 10 states TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2003 08:55:54 PM ] NEW DELHI: The simple, hot mid-day meal still eludes millions
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31, 2003
      No mid-day meals for kids in 10 states

      TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2003 08:55:54 PM ]

      NEW DELHI: The simple, hot mid-day meal still eludes millions of
      schoolchildren in at least 10 states and Union Territories, the Lok
      Sabha has been told. This, despite exhortations by the Centre, which
      fully funds the scheme, concern expressed by the Planning Commission
      and a clear directive from the Supreme Court. ``The government has
      been constantly urging the states/Union Territories, currently not
      providing cooked meals, to implement a cooked meal programme,'' Union
      minister of state for HRD Vallabhbhai Kathiria said.



      The 10 defaulters, which have only partially implemented the scheme,
      are: Haryana, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Orissa,
      Punjab, Uttaranchal, West Bengal and Delhi. Of these, Delhi is a
      classic example. Its compact size and the fact that it is the
      headquarters of the Food Corporation of India (FCI), through which
      the government distributes free foodgrains — and even pays for its
      lifting and transport — have not encouraged it to implement the
      scheme. There are other examples of neglect. The Planning Commission
      has taken serious note of a report by the estimates committee of the
      Maharashtra legislature on the Centrally-sponsored Midday Meal Scheme
      (MMS).



      The committee had alleged that the scheme has been ``moth-eaten by
      corruption and fraud'' and that the food supplied, in one instance,
      contained ``rat droppings, glass fragments and stones''. Maharashtra
      lifted 2.14 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of wheat and rice during 1999-
      2000 and 1.76 lakh MT during 2000-2001. The allocation, however, was
      much higher — 2.8 lakh MT in each year. If this is the case of a
      progressive state like Maharashtra, the situation in other states is
      far worse. Overall, the Centre gave the states and UTs 1.4 million MT
      and 1.6 million MT during this period. But only 50.66 per cent of the
      foodgrains were lifted during 1999-2000. This fell to 42.73 per cent
      in 2000-2001.



      ``This is poverty amidst plenty,'' says K Venkatasubramanian, member,
      Planning Commission who, as district education officer in
      Thirunelveli, TN, was the first to execute the MMS initiated by then
      chief minister K Kamaraj. A national review of the MMS has been
      carried out. He convened a meeting of the Planning Commission that
      was attended by secretaries of the state governments and Central
      departments including rural development, urban development, the HRD
      ministry and department of women and child welfare.



      Many state governments have gone on record to say that they do not
      have the means to pay for the transport of the foodgrains, set up
      infrastructure for preparing the meals and distributing them. This,
      despite the fact that the Centre also gives a separate transportation
      grant to each state. The Planning Commission would like to know the
      precise impact serving of meals has on the lives of schoolchildren.
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