Questioning the decision of the state government to hand over the mid-day meal scheme to contractors in four new districts, Democratic Mid-day Meal Union on Saturday held a massive protest in front of the deputy commissioner's office here.
The union alleged that despite complaints of poor quality of food provided by contractors in many districts, the government has now decided to hand over scheme on contract basis in Bathinda, SAS Nagar, Patiala, Jalandhar and Amritsar districts.
Contractors were presently providing mid-day meal to students in Ferozepur, Ludhiana and Sangrur districts.
The union also handed over a memorandum regarding their demands addressed to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to tehsildar Darshan Singh.
District president of the union, Sukhjit Kaur said besides poor quality of food, there are reports of presence of rat and lizard dropping in the food items from districts where food is being prepared on contract basis.
“So far, government has failed to take note of the callous attitude of contractors who pose a threat to the lives of students by providing spurious meal,” she said, adding that the district authorities have assured to arrange their meeting with education minister Sikander Singh Maluka for November 19.
“Besides this, with implementation of contract system in more districts jobs of around 4,500 cooks across state were at stake,” she said.
Asking the state government to abolish the contract system, the union threatened to launch intensive protest in the region in order to save their jobs.
Besides, the union members rued that despite assurances from government to meet their other demands, their repeated representations have had no effect.
The cooks were also demanding hike in their pay-scales as per pay norms of skilled workers, regularisation in their jobs, life insurance of minimum `2 lakh, inflation allowance, proper facilities in the kitchen and medical allowance in case any incident happens during the working hours.