CHENNAI: Chief Minister MK Stalin on Saturday marked the completion of his first year in office with five new schemes, including nutritious breakfast for students of Classes I to V in government schools on all working days. Recalling the achievements of the DMK government over the past one year, the CM asserted that the all-inclusive ‘Dravidian Model’ of development would continue.
Converting 25 higher secondary schools run by corporations and State government into schools of excellence at a cost of Rs 150 crore, providing nutrients and medical assistance to children below the age of six to address nutritional deficiency, starting 708 urban hospitals in 21 municipal corporations and 63 municipalities, and extending ‘CM in Your Constituency’ scheme to all 234 constituencies were among the new welfare measures announced by the CM in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Saturday.
The nutritious breakfast scheme would initially be rolled out in a few municipal corporations and remote villages. The scheme would be operated by local bodies and would be extended to all parts of the State in a phased manner. Explaining the rationale for the scheme, Stalin said the government had received information that most schoolchildren skip breakfast as they have to go to school early in the morning, and in some cases, due to family background.
Under the second scheme, medical assistance and nutrients would be provided to children to address deficiency. Quoting a survey, the Chief Minister said most children below the age of six have nutritional deficiency and some children are underweight. Medical tests will be done periodically for children in the age group to address these issues, the Chief Minister told the Assembly.
All constituencies will be treated equally: Stalin
The third scheme is to upgrade 25 higher secondary schools into schools of excellence at a cost of Rs 150 crore in line with Delhi’s model government schools. The fourth scheme is to establish 708 urban hospitals akin to primary and secondary health centres to provide quality healthcare to people. In the first phase, these urban hospitals would be established in 21 municipal corporations and 63 municipalities.
Buildings for these hospitals would be constructed at a cost of Rs 180.45 crore. The fifth scheme is to extend the ‘CM in Your Constituency’ programme to all 234 constituencies. Each MLA can give a list of 10 schemes to District Collectors and priority would be given to schemes that cannot be implemented under existing government programmes.
About Rs 1,000 crore would be allocated for this every year. Stalin said all constituencies, whether it is his Kolathur seat or Leader of Opposition K Palaniswami’s Edappadi constituency or O Panneerselvam’s Bodinaickanur seat, would be treated equally. AIADMK MLAs stayed away from the proceedings of the House on Saturday.
Later in the day, Edappadi K Palaniswami came out with a list of charges against the DMK government. Teachers and academicians welcomed the announcements. “Most students come to school without having breakfast. They walk long distances in scorching sun and by the time they sit in class they are exhausted,” said K Priya, a government schoolteacher in T Nagar.
Concurring, RK Babu, an education rights activist, said the scheme would ensure good attendance as many children would turn up to have breakfast. School education department officials said they would work with social welfare department to implement the pilot project expeditiously.