Despite the UT education department’s promises to set up new kitchens in gover nment schools in the city, only seven out of 111 government schools in the city — Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 10, GMSSS-15, GMSSS-26, GMSSS44, GMSSS-47 and GMHS-38 and GMHS-42 - have kitchens to prepare midday meal for the students.
Last year, the department had promised to build the kitchens in 11 schools before start of the new academic session. With the 2016-17 academic session around the corner, the department’s proposal is yet to see the light of the day. In 2013 too, the department had promised to set up midday meal kitchens in three local government schools, but had failed to fulfill it.
According to sources, the department was aiming to cut down the cost of outsourcing the preparation of midday meal because, at present, the contract for preparing the meal is with Dr Ambedkar Institute of Hotel Management, Sector 42 and Hotel Shivalikview, Sector 17.
Sources in the education department had earlier claimed that inadequate funding was the reason behind the delay in setting up of the new kitchens. A senior official of the education department said, “None of the primary schools have a kitchen. The remaining schools are served midday meal from the centralised location. Only seven schools that have kitchens prepare their own midday meal. Besides, a lot of money is being spent on the construction of new schools and sports stadiums. Besides, kitchens can only be constructed in schools where there is sufficient space. Most of the primary schools lack enough space.”
Former DPI (schools) Kamlesh Kumar had earlier told HT that the plan was to set up kitchens in various schools, including government schools in Sectors 33, 43 28, 25, 46 and 49.
A school principal of a local government school said the ministry of human resource and development (MHRD) had stated that each school should have its own kitchen for preparing midday meal. Principal of the Government Model Senior Secondary School (GMSSS), Sector 10, Harbir Singh Anand, said, “If food is prepared in kitchens of schools itself, it will help the authorities to keep an eye on hygiene and avoid wastage. Food will be prepared depending upon attendance, besides children will be served hot and nutritious food. There are a lot of advantages in introducing kitchens in all government schools.”
When asked about the delay in the construction of kitchens in other schools, director school education (DSE) Rubinderjit Singh Brar said, “We are planning the same and will be able to confirm the exact status in a few days from now.” He further added that there was no such delay in the proposal.”
POOR QUALITY FOOD BEING SERVED IN CITY’S GOVT SCHOOLS
The report for 2009 to 2014 tabled in the Parliament a month back stated that the midday meal was being cooked in unhygienic conditions by CITCO. The report pointed out that broken and unclean utensils were being used for cooking in an area that is dimly lit. The comptroller and auditor general (CAG), in its report on the midday meal scheme in 2014, had highlighted that the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) was serving poor-quality food to students in the government schools.