In a development that puts a question mark over the much-hyped midday meal scheme of the state government, more than 3,000 students of 38 government and aided primary schools of Batala have not been provided with midday meals for the last 15 days.
It was learnt that the private contractor hired to supply midday meals had stopped doing so from May 1 since he had not been paid his dues by the municipal council for the last two months.
The contractor firm, Sardari Lal and Sons, maintained that he charged Rs 3.10 per student for supply of midday meal but the council had made part payment to him for the last few months, with the result that the dues had piled up to more than Rs 4 lakh.
The contractor claimed that though he had requested the MC officials many times to clear his dues, but to no avail.
Passing the entire blame on the block primary education officer (BPEO), Batala municipal council executive officer Manohar Singh Randhawa admitted that the civic body had to pay more than Rs 4.5 lakh to Sardari Lal and Sons. However, the Batala BPEO, which was supposed to transfer funds to the council, was not doing so, he claimed.
He further maintained that an official posted at the BPEO, who was deputed to transfer funds to the council, had gone on leave for the last few months, thus affecting the entire work.
When contacted, Gurdaspur district education officer (primary) Joginder Kaur claimed, "The state government had send the outstanding amount on April 23, which was further disbursed to the BPEOs in the entire district on May 1. Now it is the duty of the BPEOs to transfer the funds to the authorities concerned."
Assuring of an enquiry, she said that she would personally look into the matter and ensure resumption of the midday meals in affected schools immediately.