CHANDIGARH: More than 50,000 children in 32 government-aided schools in Punjab were not served cooked mid-day meals, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has said in its latest report.
A report on non-public sector undertakings for the period ending March 2015 which was tabled on the last day of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha session also found that mid-day meals were not served for days ranging between 4 and 245 days in 40 schools.
Mid-day meal scheme (MDMS) is a centrally sponsored scheme to boost the universalisation of primary education by increasing enrolment, retention and attendance in primary and upper primary classes.
CAG in its audit found that because of non-implementation of MDMS in 32 government-aided schools of Amritsar and Ludhiana, 50,417 students were deprived of the benefits of the scheme.
The audit further observed that against the allocation of Rs 810.82 crore for cooking cost, funds of Rs 734.28 crore were released during 2010-15.
It was further noticed that MDMS in 40 out of 180 test checked schools was not served for the days ranging between 4 and 245 due to non-availability of cooking cost.
CAG further said that guidelines envisaged that money saved as a result of enhanced central assistance is not to be diverted for purposes other than the components of MDMS.
The audit observed that against the allocation of Rs 17.01 crore, Rs 15.55 crore were releasd under management, monitoring and evaluation component during 2010-15. Out of this instead of releasing Rs 7.77 crore to schools, the amount was utilised at the district level towards salary, transport and for contingent expenditure.
An amount of Rs 41 lakh was utilised towards renovation and rent of headquarters office (PSEB building) during 2012-14 in contravention of guidelines.
CAG also observed that no record or register was maintained at the school/block/ district level to ensure minimum calorific and protein contents in the cooked meals to be served to children.
Moreover the results of food samples tested in authorised laboratory between August 2013 and January 2015 showed that NGOs were not providing nutrients to 1,41,523 children as per norms.
As per guidelines, cooked MDM meals are to be provided with 450 and 700 calories and 12 gm and 20 gm protein contents for primary and upper primary school children respectively.