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Midday meal accounts running low, 10 Ludhiana govt schools stop serving

Desperate times: Govt fails to release cooking cost under scheme; many schools are paying from own pocket to keep serving food to students

punjab Updated: Oct 24, 2017 16:04 IST
Deepa Sharma Sood
Deepa Sharma Sood
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
Midday meal,Ludhiana govt schools,govt schools stop serving
A majority of the government schools in Punjab are having a tough time as the accounts designated for the scheme are running low by ₹30,000 to ₹60,000 for past two months.(Gurminder Singh/HT)

Ten government schools in from different blocks of Ludhiana have stopped serving the midday meal to its students after the government failed to release the cooking cost under the scheme.

A majority of the government schools are having a tough time as the accounts designated for the scheme are running low by Rs 30,000 to Rs 60,000.

What the scheme says
  • Each school gets wheat and rice (100gm for each primary kid, and 150gm for upper primary student) free of cost from nearest storage facility of Food Corporation of India (FCI)
  • In Punjab, around 22.2 lakh students are covered under the scheme
  • From cooking cost, schools buy pulses, vegetables, salt, condiments, oil commodities, milk, LPG and wood
  • Meal cost per child: Rs 4.2 in primary schools, Rs 6.1 in upper primary schools.

The schools in-charges said the rising prices of vegetables coupled with expensive cooking gas and a shoestring budget have forced them to stop the meals.

When HT tried to contact the school heads where the meals were stopped, none were willing to come forward to comment. They said the higher authorities will rebuke them if they revealed to the media that students were not getting their meals.

A school principal, requesting anonymity, said, “On Monday, we stopped serving the midday meal to students as we have already spent Rs 60,000 from our own pocket to run the scheme. However, students were informed to bring food from home. We have also informed the block primary education officer and the district education officer regarding the problem. We will restart the scheme only if the funds are provided in time.”

This, however, is not the first time that schools have resorted to stopping the scheme altogether. In past years too, several schools have stopped serving due to a paucity of funds.

Parminder Kaur, head teacher of Government Primary School, Jawaddi, said, “The midday meal account is running low by Rs 60,000 and we are purchasing the vegetables, milk, oil and other commodities from our own money. We have 876 students and if we do not get funds within this week, we will be forced to stop serving.”

Another school head, Amandeep Verma of Government Primary School, Dugri, said, “We are running the midday meal on credit and if we do not received funds then we will stop serving meals from Saturday. The midday meal account is running low by Rs 30,000.”

Sources from the education department said Punjab government received the cooking cost of midday meal two months ago from the central government but did not release the same to the districts as they utilised the funds somewhere else.

Prashant Kumar Goyal, director general, school education, Punjab, said, “We have take up this issue as the delay was from the treasury branch and the funds will be released soon to all the districts in Punjab.”

Prabhcharan Singh, general manager of the state midday meal cell, SAS Nagar, said, “We are receiving several queries from the school heads and most of them are finding it hard to run the scheme, but they were told to run the scheme as funds will be transferred.”

First Published: Oct 24, 2017 16:04 IST