Even though the Delhi government had claimed it has lifted only 51 per cent of the foodgrains allocated to it by the HRD ministry, it maintained to have supplied hot, cooked meal to 100 per cent children enrolled in primary schools in Delhi. This despite the fact that 35 per cent of the foodgrains lifted has gone down as waste, as reported by the Hindustan Times on Thursday.
But the state government’s claim had fallen flat in the wake of an internal assessment done by the HRD ministry. The assessment showed only 85 per cent children in MCD schools, 13 per cent in Delhi government schools and one per cent in NDMC schools had availed midday meals during the period.
Multiple contradictions have came into fore in an assessment done by Ravi Ramachandran, a Deputy Secretary in the ministry. Delhi Education minister Arvinder Singh Lovely refused to comment on the contradictions.
Ramachandran’s assessment was based on the Delhi government’s claim that all the foodgrains lifted were utilised, meaning all schoolchildren enrolled in primary level in Delhi had availed the scheme on all working days. “It meant there was 100 per cent attendance in primary schools in Delhi last year, which is not possible,” said a HRD ministry official.
Moreover, if the Delhi government had provided midday meal to all children, it should have lifted its entire foodgrain quota of 21,900 tones for the year 2007-08. In actual, it was able to lift only 51 per cent of the quota, thereby creating the contradictory position. The department-wise analysis on December 2007 found MCD had lifted 50 per cent, Delhi government 55 per cent and NDMC 44 per cent.
To add further on suspicion that something is grossly wrong in the midday meal scheme in Delhi, the HRD ministry found that against 51 per cent foodgrains lifted, the cooking cost was claimed only for 41 per cent foodgrains.
“Ideally, the percentage utilisation of cooking costs and foodgrains should tally with each other. But in the UT of Delhi, the utilisation of foodgrains is 51 per cent and cooking cost is 41 per cent,” the HRD ministry told HT in a reply to a RTI application.
Further, the Centre for Study of Developing Societies, which monitors midday meal in Delhi, found discrepancies in the number of working days reported from Delhi schools. While some schools reported 202 working days others reported 216 days, the Centre has told the HRD ministry. The Centre also said the foodgrain quota fixed for each school was doubtable, thereby creating a possibility of pilferage.
The HRD ministry has also found discrepancy in the number of children availing midday meal in Delhi schools. While the National University Education Research and Training maintained national data on primary school enrolment said Delhi had 10.43 lakh children at primary level, the state government claimed over 11.50 lakh students.
The ministry has also said about 30,000 children in out of school education centres have not been covered under the midday meal scheme.