The State Government on Monday set a three-month timeline for construction of pucca, fire-proof kitchens in all the schools to ensure provisioning of quality food to children under the Midday meal (MDM) programme.
Chief Secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra, who held a video conferencing with district collectors here, directed them to engage directly in monitoring the quality and safety of the MDM supplied to the school students.
They should ensure that the guidelines on maintenance of hygiene and cleanliness in the kitchens as well as cooking process, personal hygiene of the cooks and the students, safe storage of food items and quality control measures in case of local procurement of food stuff should be strictly complied with. The collectors have been asked to take immediate steps to provide smokeless stoves to all MDM kitchens with available funds.
At present, 54,21,728 children from classes I to VIII in 63,531 Government and Government-aided schools are being provided MDM for six days a week. Provisions have been made for serving egg curry twice a week on Wednesday and Sunday.
The Chief Secretary asked the collectors to constitute steering-cum-monitoring committees at district and block levels and also hold regular Vigilance committee meetings involving the respective MPs. They will ensure proper convergence of the departments concerned, agencies and NGOs involved in the MDM programme.
School and Mass Education department Secretary Usha Padhi called for strict checking of the quality of food stuff, conforming to the FAO standards. If the quality is not satisfactory, they will not be accepted at school point. Stressing timely release of funds for MDM, Padhi instructed direct payment to the transport agents from district account and no intermediary should be involved in the process.
The collectors of KBK districts have also been asked to ensure timely completion of school buildings under Rashtriya Madhyamik Sikhsa Abhiyan. As many as 650 schools will be constructed, majority of them located in KBK districts.