Rs. 600 Crore for Monitoring Midday Meal Scheme - The New Indian Express

Rs. 600 Crore for Monitoring Midday Meal Scheme

Published: 07th January 2014 08:04 AM

Last Updated: 07th January 2014 08:04 AM

In a bid to pay more attention to the management of the midday meal scheme, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Department (MHRD) will allocate `600 crore for various supervisory mechanisms in the financial year 2014-15.

At present, `236 crore is earmarked for the management, monitoring and evaluation (MME) of the  scheme at the national level.

“It will be increased to `600 crore for monitoring and setting up a management structure which will include an emergency medical plan for each school,” Gaya Prasad, director, midday meal scheme, said. 

 He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a national workshop on the preparation of the annual work plan and budget for the scheme on Monday.

The weightage of MME in annual work plans of states is 1.8 per cent of the total allocation of the scheme. This will increase to four per cent this year. 

 In 2014-15, the first objective of the ministry is to ensure there are no casualties in schools.

“The deaths of many schoolchildren in Bihar in July 2013 was unfortunate. We found that the children died while they were being taken to the hospital. So, an emergency medical plan,  comprising mobile numbers of medical personnel, primary health centres and medical kits will be devised,” Prasad said.

 He said ‘a procurement discipline’ should be in place to ensure the quality of ingredients used to cook meals.

“The quality of food grains like rice and wheat procured from the Food Corporation of India is not a problem. But the procurement of ingredients such as pulses, vegetables, cooking oil and salt needs some discipline,” Prasad said.

 The ministry has entered into memoranda of understanding with various organisations to conduct social audits of the scheme, he said.

“The social audit concept is popular with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. We have decided to have social audits for the scheme conducted by a few organisations that specialise in them,” he said.

Cost Revision

Under the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17), the ministry has decided to revise the costs of cooking, hike honorarium for cooks-cum-helpers and transportation rates of food grains.

“The cooking costs will be increased by 7.5 per cent. We have also decided to increase the honorarium for cooks from `1,000 to `2,000. We are waiting for the Cabinet’s approval in this regard,” he said.

Restrictions for NGOs

The ministry is revising its guidelines on the involvement of NGOs in the scheme to include only NGOs located within 5-10 kms from a school. “At present, guidelines clearly state that NGOs cannot work in rural areas. In urban areas, there have been instances where schools received grants to have their own kitchen-cum-store and NGOs continued to serve meals, resulting in wastage,” Prasad added.

More Vegetables in Meals

Bangalore: The Department of Public Instruction has instructed government and aided schools to include more vegetables in midday meals.

Children are currently served rice and sambar from Monday to Thursday, bisibele bath on Friday and vegetable upma and sweet pongal on Saturday.

“While the menu will be retained, we have instructed schools to add different varieties of vegetables in the meal,” said S Jayakumar, Joint Director, midday meal scheme. He said both schools and NGOs that serve the meals “are expected to adhere to the instruction as soon as possible”.

According to the instruction, meals on Monday will include spinach, drumstick leaves, potato, brinjal, onion and tomato. On Tuesday, students will be given pumpkin, carrot, beans, beetroot and ridge gourd; on Wednesday drumsticks, beans, potato, onion and tomato; on Thursday sweet pumpkin, bitter gourd, cucumber, ladies finger, radish, ridge gourd and turnip; on Friday beans, cabbage, carrot and capsicum and on Saturday green leaves, cabbage and carrot.

The State government will emulate the practice of preserving samples of a day’s meals as done in Maharashtra, Jayakumar said.  “This is to identify any fault with the midday meal in the event that any child falls ill. Right now, our meals are cooked and the leftovers are disposed of,” he added.

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