Never get compensated for poll staff’s food, allege school heads in Ludhiana - Hindustan Times

Never get compensated for poll staff’s food, allege school heads in Ludhiana

ByAkanksha Attri, Ludhiana
May 24, 2024 09:55 PM IST

Schools where poll booths will be set up have to arrange 3 meals and three refreshments; would get ₹200 per head

As the Lok Sabha elections draw closer, school authorities have been directed to arrange three meals for the poll staff who would be on duty at the booths in the respective schools.

A meeting regarding meal arrangements for poll staff is scheduled for May 27. (Manish/HT)
A meeting regarding meal arrangements for poll staff is scheduled for May 27. (Manish/HT)

However, school heads allege that they end up paying out of their own pockets for the meals as the promised 200 compensation is never provided to them. However, deputy commissioner Sakshi Sawhney, who also serves as the district election officer, assured that a letter has been issued and the 200 compensation would be released by the department.

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As the poll staff reach their respective stations a day ahead of the scheduled polls, their dinner on that day, and breakfast and lunch for the election day have to be arranged. Additionally, refreshment for three times is to be ensured.

A menu for this has been prepared by the department concerned.

Government Senior Secondary School, Lalton Kalan’s principal Pradeep Kumar said that he had made arrangements during three elections in the past, but his school never received compensation. “We go by the concept of ‘atithi devo bhava’ and consider it our responsibility to cater to the poll staff. However, due to financial constraints, we face issues. We have never received any compensation for the ration we arrange during elections,” he said.

He added that this time, his school would arrange meals for nearly 40 people, including polling staff, volunteers and mid-day meal workers. “Our staff would contribute for the ration, but the primary and middle schools with just three or four staff members find it difficult to pay out of their pockets,” he said.

“The government has already issued a letter stating that all the institutions would be compensated for the meals they arrange and the school heads should not worry”, DEO Sawhney said.

A head teacher at a middle school said that due to low number of staff members, they seek help from locals to arrange the meals.

Do not use mid-day meal rations for poll staff: DEO to schools

The education department has instructed the schools not to use rations from mid-day meals for meals of the poll staff. District education officer (elementary) Lalita Arora said that it was against the rules to use the ration procured for mid-day meals for poll staff’s meals.

“The ration is for kids. For meals of poll personnel, the government would compensate the schools,” she added.

As the summer vacations have started early due to the heatwave, wheat flour and cereals are available with school authorities. “We will use the flour from the mid-day meal. We had procured rations for meals till May 30 but due to early holidays, it is unused. Instead of waiting for it to go bad, we will use it in preparing meals for poll staff,” a government school principal said, requesting anonymity.

PAU School principal Balwinder Kaur said that a meeting regarding the meal arrangements is scheduled for May 27 and the school heads would have more clarity after it.

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