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HindustanTimes Wed,26 Nov 2014

Potato crisis hits mid-day meals in West Bengal

Sandip Chowdhury , Hindustan Times  Kolkata, November 08, 2013
First Published: 09:57 IST(8/11/2013) | Last Updated: 10:03 IST(8/11/2013)

The potato crisis in West Bengal has even taken a toll on the mid-day meals, which are being served without the tuber in primary schools run by Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC).

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Apart from community kitchens, mid-day meals are also prepared in over 100 primary schools in Kolkata.

“We are opting for pumpkins, papayas and soyabeans as alternatives to potatoes in our midday meals as the crisis is acute,” Mitali Banerjee, member, mayorin-council (education) (MMiC) told HT on Thursday.

Banerjee had on Friday called an emergency meeting with organisations running community mid-day meal kitchens.

Apart from the community kitchen, mid-day meals are also prepared in over 100 primary schools in Kolkata.

“I had a talk with many of our head teachers and requested them to inform us on any kind of crisis while preparing mid-day meals for students,” the MMiC said.

“We are facing a severe problem in managing ration for midday meals being served in our school. Potato is as essential as rice and dal and acute crisis and high price are eating into our funds,” a senior teacher with a KMC- run primary school told HT.

KMC’s education department officials are going on surprise visits to different schools to oversee mid-day meal arrangements during the potato crisis.

“I have asked my officials to put my mobile number and numbers of important officials of my department on the notice board of every school to allow parents to directly contact us in case of any queries relating to mid- day meals,” Banerjee added.

Three community kitchens, one each at Gobinda Khatik Road, Bagbazar and Garden Reach, serve mid-day meals to almost 150 primary schools run by the civic body.

“I already had a session with a newly-appointed self-help group, Nabadiganta, which is managing the community kitchen on Gobinda Khatik Road that serves mid-day meals to around 70 primary schools. We discussed all alternative arrangements to overcome the potato crisis in Kolkata on Wednesday. The group has assured me that it will maintain nutritional value and serve tasty food to the school children,” the MMiC told HT.

According to Banerjee, KMC’s education department has also made an appeal to the market department to supply potatoes at their community kitchen stores to overcome the crisis in the coming days.

“I had a talk with my fellow colleague Tarak Singh, who is in-charge of the market department and got full assurance that supplies would resume at the earliest,” Banerjee said.

Traders lift ceasework in West Midnapore MIDNAPORE: Potato traders in West Midnapore withdrew their ceasework that had been called to protest against the move by the Mamata government to ban the bulk transfer and sale of the kitchen staple from the state.

The breakthrough was arrived at during a meeting between the protesting traders and top officials of the district administration on Thursday.

Buoyed by the positive outcome of the meeting, district officials voiced hope of restoring the normal supply of potatoes at rates fixed by the government.


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