37 lakh students without Aadhaar may miss meals
About 37 lakh students of more than 49,000 government schools in Rajasthan may soon be deprived of midday meals as they are yet to get Aadhaar numbers.
A letter from the union human resource development ministry to the Rajasthan chief secretary says 42% students in the state have enrolled for Aadhaar; August 31 is the deadline for enrolment for a unique identification number, generated by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
The HRD ministry has asked the chief secretary to achieve 100% Aadhaar enrolment, says the letter, a copy of which is with HT. The ministry has sought response on Aadhaar enrolment from chief secretaries of 16 states and union territories.
In a notification on February 28, the Centre made Aadhaar compulsory for availing of benefits, such as midday meals, by students (aged 6 to 14) of elementary schools. At that time, children and parents were given time till 30 June to get Aadhaar numbers. The Supreme Court is yet to give the final verdict on making Aadhaar mandatory.
At least 62.78 lakh elementary students (Class 1-8), studying in 49,769 government schools in Rajasthan, now get nutritional benefits from the midday meal scheme, according to official data. Cook-cum-helpers working under the scheme were also asked to get Aadhaar numbers.
“Aadhaar registration of students is a lengthy process and we are working according to the action plan to complete enrolment in a time-bound manner,” elementary education director PC Kishan told HT.
Midday meal is a central government scheme that aims to provide some nutrition to students in government schools, special training centres and madrasas supported under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The programme has been allocated Rs 10,000 crore in the 2017-18 union budget, an increase of Rs 300 crore over the previous budget.
Anil Swarup, union secretary of the department of school education and literacy, has expressed concern over ‘no response’ from 16 states on Aadhaar enrolment.
Himachal Pradesh topped the drive with 80% enrolments out of 14,25,780 students, Nagaland has achieved 15% enrolment, and the National Capital Territory of Delhi 79%.