At Pathan Mohalla Urdu Primary School under Soro NAC, mid-day meal (MDM) is cooked right next to a lavatory and a chocked drain.
This is not a solitary case. At many Government schools in the district, noon meals are being cooked next to lavatories, abandoned houses, under trees, on roads and even close to drains. Because none of these schools have kitchens.
Teachers and cooks at the Pathan Mohalla Urdu Primary School said they stop cooking mid-day meals during rainy days as the drain overflows flooding the road where the food is cooked. For 180 students of the school having five classes, there are just three classrooms and one of it is used as the office-cum-store room.
The story at Kharapapada Urdu Primary School in Balasore town is a little different. Two years back, money was sanctioned to the school for construction of a kitchen, but the work is yet to begin. During monsoon, school’s cook prepares the meal at her house and brings it to the school. “I cook the food at my house during rainy days and on the other days, food is prepared inside a partially constructed structure under a tarpaulin cover,” said cook Isratun Bibi (50).
Though the authorities of Sunahat UGUP School had begun construction of a kitchen before funds were sanctioned a couple of months back, the work has not been completed. Here too, food is cooked in unhygienic condition. Due to lack of rooms, they have converted a classroom into a store room.
While the district project coordinator (DPC) of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) said only 62 schools out of 3040 schools in the district do not have kitchens, officials dealing with MDM said `19 crore has been sanctioned for 3202 kitchens in the district, but they do not have the exact figure of completed kitchens.
“MDM was given to us in December 2011. Earlier, it was supervised by the district social welfare officer. Funds for most of the kitchens were released in 2007-08. We cannot say whether the utilisation certificates have been submitted or not,” said an official, on condition of anonymity, adding that the Government-run residential schools have been allotted two kitchens.
DPC Prasanta Kishore Mohapatra said out of 3040 schools in the district, construction of 2,978 kitchens has been completed. “Of the rest schools, 29 do not have MDM facility. We are trying to complete the kitchens of the rest 33 schools by August 31,” he said.
Sources, however, said the situation is different at the grassroot level. They said 60 per cent of schools in the district do not have a complete kitchen shed. Of 45 schools in Balasore town, while MDM has been implemented in 31 schools, none has a complete kitchen. Some kitchens are under construction and work of others is yet to begin.
The DPC said he would be meeting school managing committees (SMCs) on August 8 to know the status of kitchens and other problems related to the MDM programme.