In 2013, the UT education department had promised to set up midday meal kitchens in three city Government Schools but had failed to accomplish it. Earlier in the year, the department pledged to build the kitchen in 11 schools before the start of the new academic session. The academic session is already underway but the department's proposal is yet to see the light of the day.
Only seven government schools in the city - Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 10, 15, 26, 44, 47 and Government Model High School, Sector 38 and 42 have kitchens to prepare midday meal for the students.
Officials of the department claimed that inadequate funding was the reason behind the delay in setting up the new kitchens.
"Till date, we don't have adequate funds to construct new kitchens in the government schools of the city. We had planned to set up kitchens in various schools including Government Schools in Sectors 33, 43 28, 25, 46, 49. We would set up the kitchens as soon as we get the funds to incur the cost of construction," said director of public instructions (DPI) (schools) Kamlesh Kumar.
A school principal, requesting anonymity, said the ministry of human resource and development (MHRD) had stated that each school should have its own kitchen for preparing midday meal, which should be at an adequate distance from the toilets in the school.
"Unfortunately, only few schools in the city have their own kitchens. Moreover, in the Sector-8 Government School the kitchen is located right next to the toilet which is a violation of the MHRD's rules. The education department has just been sleeping over the issue," said the principal.
Midday mean being unloaded from a truck. (HT Photo)
According to sources, the department was aiming to cut down the cost of outsourcing the preparation of midday meal. As of now, the contract for preparing the meal has been given to Dr Ambedkar Institute of Hotel Management, Sector 42 and Hotel Shivalikview, Sector 17.
Principal of the Government Model Senior Secondary School (GMSSS), Sector 10, Harbir Singh Anand, claimed, "The food prepared in the kitchens of the schools in nutritious and hygienic as it is properly supervised during preparation."
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its report on the midday meal scheme last year, had highlighted that the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) was serving poor quality of food to the students in Government Schools.
"If all the schools are be able to prepare midday meal in their kitchens then loads of funds would be saved," Anand said.