The UT education department on May 30 approved Rs 1.5-crore budget for building midday meal kitchens in city’s three government schools — GMSSS-23, GMSSS-40 and GMHS-29. In 2013, the department had promised to set up midday meal kitchens in 10 government schools, but had failed to fulfill it.
While the UT education department is in the process of sending mapping and detailed plan of the construction work to the Central government, Rs 42 lakh estimate has already been approved by the UT engineering department for GMHS-29.
These three new kitchens will be cluster-based, implying that food will be prepared for about four to five surrounding schools and will be built in a large area. There are 111 government schools in the city. The seven government schools — GMSSS-10, GMSSS-15, GMSSS-26, GMSSS-44, GMSSS-47, GMHS-38 and GMHS-42 — that already having midday meal kitchens, serve food only to their students.
Confirming the same, deputy director (vocational education), who looks after the midday meal scheme in UT, Saroj Mittal said, “With these new kitchens we will be able to cook meal in our own kitchens, rather than getting it from outside. The old kitchens will also get more utensils and other essential things.”
“Once the Central government reverts to the mapping plan for GMHS-29, we will start the construction work for the said kitchen at least,” added Mittal, who recently returned from Kolkata after attending a national workshop on reviewing midday meal scheme in all states.
The delay in such projects usually occurs at the engineering department’s end and not at the education department stage, said an education department official also.
Education secretary Sarvjit Singh said, “We have enough budget allocated this yea. The pace of the work on these midday meal kitchens has increased.”
In May, the report for 2009 to 2014, which was tabled in the Parliament, states that the midday meal is being cooked in unhygienic conditions by CITCO. The report had pointed out that broken and unclean utensils are being used for cooking in a dimly-lit area.
In March, MP Kirron Kher had recommended to get midday meal food from Akshaya Patra kitchen of ISKCON Temple in Sector 36 so as to ensure proper and hygienic supply of food to students.
In January, president of the Principals’ Association of Government Schools Harbir Anand had said, “Food prepared in kitchens of schools helps the authorities to keep an eye on hygiene and check on wastage. Food will be prepared depending upon attendance, besides students will be served hot and nutritious food.”
In 2014, comptroller and auditor general (CAG), in its report on the midday meal scheme, had highlighted that the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) was serving poor-quality food to government school students.