Thanks to the lack of sincerity among the authorities concerned, thousands of children failed to get the mid-day meal (MDM) in their schools during the past few years and it all happened as the cooking cost/food grains were not disbursed according to the requirement of the schools.The mess in the system has come to fore in the report of Comptroller and Auditor General, tabled in Punjab Vidhan Sabha recently.
Notably, the state government was responsible for providing nutritious cooked MDM to every child studying in the schools covered under MDM Scheme by ensuring adequate and timely budgetary provisions for all components of the programme.According to, as many as 50,417 children in 32 government-aided schools of Amritsar and Ludhiana districts were the prime sufferers of the non-implementation the MDMS. Further, cooking cost was short released by Rs 76.54 crore resulting into non-serving of MDM between 4 and 245 days in 40 schools.
Short allocation of food grains by 10.44 per cent and thereafter its short lifting by 5.11 to 18.23 per cent led to non-serving of MDM between 4 and 149 days in 49 schools of the state.Not enough, the auditors have also observed that out of funds of Rs 15.55 crore provided under the Management, Monitoring and Evaluation component, Rs 7.77 crore were not allocated to schools and the funds were utilised for the components not covered under MDMS.
The National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (commonly known as the Mid Day Meal Scheme) was launched as a Centrally-sponsored scheme. The MDMS intended to boost the universalisation of primary education by increasing enrolment, retention and attendance and simultaneously improving nutritional level among children country-wide in a phased manner by 1997-98.
However, against the prime motive, the auditors observed a decreasing trend in enrolment in schools. The CAG report states that despite spending Rs 1,130.47 crore on the scheme during 2010-15 in the state, enrollment decreased to 19,71,513 (6.62 per cent) in 2014-15 from 21,11,366 in 2010-11 in the primary and upper primary classes.Though the department concerned while submitting its reply to the CAG admitted the facts that efforts were being made to make the people aware to admit their wards in government schools, it exposed the chinks in the system.
The inspection of auditors has also found that the Fair Average Quality of food grains was also not being ensured by a team consisting of a Food Corporation of India’s representative and a nominee of the collector. The calorific value in MDM for the children of upper primary classes that was fixed at 700 calories and 20 grams protein (September 2007), was also not ensured according to norms fixed by the Union government, CAG observed.
Going ahead, the report on MDMS in Punjab also exposes that the kitchen-cum-stores (KCSs) were either not planned for construction or these were incomplete. It is learnt that the department didn’t interact effectively with other departments implementing various developmental programmes which resulted in non-completion of 198 KCSs. The centralised kitchens were not established according to specifications by NGOs, it further reads, adding that the potable water, weighing machines and height recorders for kids were also not available in some schools.
Though the evaluation studies of the scheme had been conducted between January and November 2014 by Panjab University, as learnt, the CAG observed that no action was taken on its recommendations.
Due to non-implementation of MDMS, MDM not served to 50,417 children in 32 government-aided schools of Amritsar and Ludhiana districts
Cooking cost short released by Rs 76.54 crore resulting into non-serving of MDM between 4 and 245 days in 40 schools.
Short allocation of food grains and thereafter its short lifting led to non-serving of MDM between 4 and 149 days in 49 schools.
Out of funds of Rs 15.55 crore provided under Management, Monitoring and Evaluation, Rs 7.77 crore not allocated to schools
Decreasing trend of enrolment in primary and upper primary classes noticed in 119 out of 180 schools during 2010-15
Fair Average Quality of food grains not ensured by a team consisting of a Food Corporation of India’s representative and a nominee of the collector.
Calorific value in MDM was not ensured according to the norms fixed by the Union government.
Inspection reports not prepared and discussed in Steering-cum-Monitoring Committee meetings for taking remedial measures.
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