Ahead of central inspection, Bengal govt asks schools to ensure cleanliness | Kolkata - Hindustan Times
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Ahead of central inspection, Bengal govt asks schools to ensure cleanliness

Jan 18, 2023 01:33 PM IST

The Union government has decided to send a team to jointly review implementation of the midday meal scheme in West Bengal

The West Bengal government has directed state-run schools to maintain cleanliness and ensure that no insects are found in the mid-day meals served to students, a senior official of the state education department said, ahead of an inspection by a central team due later this week.

The central team is likely to visit schools in West Bengal starting from January 20 to review the implementation PM POSHAN scheme. (Representative Image)
The central team is likely to visit schools in West Bengal starting from January 20 to review the implementation PM POSHAN scheme. (Representative Image)

The Union government has decided to send a team to jointly review implementation of the midday meal scheme in the state after allegations of misappropriation of funds in the centrally sponsored Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman (PM POSHAN) scheme. Last week, a snake was found in the dal served in mid-day meal in a primary school in Birbhum district. Later, a rat and lizard were allegedly found in the mid-day meal served in a school in Malda district.

“Central teams are likely to visit the schools starting from January 20 to review the implementation of the centrally sponsored scheme, Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman (PM POSHAN) scheme. Ahead of that, state officials have started visiting the schools and the latter have been asked to ensure cleanliness,” said the official cited above.

“Schools have been asked to ensure that no insects are found in the meals. Kitchens and utensils need to be kept clean so that nothing falls in the food and contaminate it. Cooks need to wear apron, masks, gloves and caps during cooking. A 11-point direction have been sent to all state-run schools in this regard,” said the official.

Recently, Bharatiya Janata Partty (BJP) legislator and leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, Suvendu Adhikary wrote to Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan over alleged misappropriation of mid-day meal funds by the Trinamool Congress (TMC)-led state government.

Later, the Centre constituted a joint review mission (JRM) to visit the state to review the implementation of PM POSHAN. The JRM would comprise experts and officials from Union and state governments.

“We had read about some reports about irregularities in the midday meal scheme in newspapers. On January 5, leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari submitted a note about large-scale irregularities in the same scheme. Hence, while in 2020 the state had objected to the visit of any such joint review mission (JRM), this time we are determined to send a JRM,” Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan told reporters in Kolkata on Saturday.

The issue of the Centre setting up a joint review mission to take stock of the mid-day meal implementation in the state has become the latest flash-point between the BJP and the TMC.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had on multiple times attacked the BJP-led centre for sending teams to the state to probe alleged irregularities in the state.

“They (Centre) are sending one team after another for political reasons… A team, B team, C team, D team. What is this? Teams are being sent if someone bursts a cracker. Bengal is being singled out by the Centre and subjected to neglect,” Banerjee told media persons earlier this month.

The Union government had also sent separate teams to check the implementation of other centrally sponsored schemes such as the PMAY and MGNREGS.

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