After the recent midday meals tragedies in schools in Bihar and elsewhere in the country, claiming the lives of tens of students, ENS decided to take a look at the implementation of the scheme in this district. And the findings are shocking, to say the least.
The officials concerned seem to be indifferent to the fact that in most of the schools the midday meals continue to be prepared in unhygienic conditions, endangering the health and lives of the students consuming them. In fact, in the recent past over 30 students fell sick after eating midday meals at two different schools in Mallapur and Pegadapalli mandals.
In the district, the midday meal scheme is being implemented in 3,052 governments schools but only 12 schools have proper kitchens for cooking the food. In the remaining 3,040 schools, the food is prepared in any available place like porticos or classrooms or under the trees.
In the schools where the classrooms were used for cooking, the classes are held for the students in the verandahs or under the trees.In most of the schools, the meals are prepared in unhygienic conditions. In some schools, pigs barge into the cooking areas and mess around.
Educational officials have identified about 1,089 schools for the construction of kitchens and have sanctioned Rs 75,000 for each school for the same. Of them, barring 12 schools, others have not yet set up the kitchens. It is not known why educational officials have not bestowed any attention on the remaining 1,963 schools in the district which are also implementing the scheme. only 1,500 schools have LPG cylinders for cooking food. In the remaining schools, firewood is used, resulting in ash contaminating the cooked food as well as smoke spreading into the classrooms disrupting studies.
When contacted, Karimanagar deputy educational officer JV Rao said: “We frequently inspect the implementation of midday meals in the schools. The government is committed to setting up kitchens in all the schools and supply adequate number of LPG cylinders.”