DHENKANAL: School management committees (SMCs) of many schools in the district have opposed distribution of eggs by Orissa State Poultry Products Co-operative Marketing Federation Ltd (OPOLFED) for the mid-day meal (MDM) scheme. They claimed that OPOLFED eggs are costlier than those available in the open market.
In February this year, the School and Mass Education department decided that OPOLFED would supply eggs to schools in six districts - Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Dhenkanal, Keonjhar, Kandhamal and Gajapati - in the first phase from April 1.
Dhenkanal has 1.2 lakh students in 1,700 schools, both primary and upper primary, across eight blocks. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, the students get rice and egg curry.
SMCs are being given Rs 4.31 per meal for lower primary schools. Similarly, for students of upper primary schools, Rs 6.23 is being spent per head.
As per a recent circular of the School and Mass Education department, while the price of each OPOLFED egg will be Rs 4.50 from March 15 to September 30, the price would be increased to Rs 4.70 from October 1 to March 14, 2017. The circular also adds that the egg price should not be costlier than the market price.
Members of SMCs said they are purchasing eggs from open market at a lesser price. While each small egg is priced at Rs 3.60, big eggs are available for Rs 4 per piece. “Under these circumstances, why should we pay more than Rs 4 for each egg?,” questioned a teacher.
Teachers of many schools had recently met District Education Officer Sipra Nayak over the issue. School headmasters said that they have also been asked to e-transfer the cost of eggs in OPOLFED bank account. They rued that banks are located far away from schools and travelling would become an additional problem for them.
On the other hand, a Bhubaneswar-based official associated with the noon meal scheme said it is not mandatory for the school managing committees to purchase eggs from OPOLFED if they are getting them at a lower price in the local market. “As per the MDM circular, they have the liberty to purchase eggs from open market if they are available at a cheaper price,” he said. Admitting to egg prices varying from place to place, the official said there is no coercion on school managing committees to buy eggs from a particular source.
“In case the eggs supplied by OPOLFED are found to be damaged by schools, the poultry cooperative marketing society will replace them without any additional cost,” he said.