Telangana is perhaps the only State, which is extending the scheme to 4.27 lakh students of ninth and tenth standards through its own revenues.
Hyderabad: On Wednesday, students at a primary school at Chaure Bazaar in Ayodhya district of Uttar Pradesh were reportedly served plain boiled rice and salt as part of the State’s mid-day meal scheme.
A video of the little ones being served the rice-salt meal soon went viral on social media, with many criticizing the much-hyped double engine governance model.
With a journalist Piyush Rai tweeting the video, several Twitter users condemned the incident, with someone even sarcastically saying this was what is happening in what the Bharatiya Janata Party touted as the ‘model State’ of the country.
With the issue billowing into a major controversy, District Magistrate Nitish Kumar issued orders suspending the school principal besides serving a notice to the village head.
In fact, this is the second such case to be reported from Uttar Pradesh this month. On September 2, half-cooked chapatis, dal, plain rice, roti with salt or mixed veg curry was reportedly served to primary school children in Deoria district under the mid-day meal scheme.
In August 2019, a similar issue was reported from Mirzapur district and in that case too, District Magistrate Anurag Patel after an inquiry placed the school teacher and supervisor of the Gram Panchayat under suspension.
In the BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, this appears to be a regular feature. Compare this with Telangana. Under the mid-day meal scheme, over 21 lakh students from Classes One to Eight, in over 23,000 government schools in the State are served quality food according to a menu recommended by health experts.
Telangana is perhaps the only State, which is extending the scheme to 4.27 lakh students of ninth and tenth standards through its own revenues. In all, over 25 lakh students are served quality food under scheme.
The union Ministry of Education during the PM-POSHAN Programme Approval Board (PAB) meeting held in February this year complimented the Telangana government for taking up the initiative.
Central government officials appreciated the State government’s good initiative of providing meals to ninth and tenth standards from its own resources. Towards effective implementation of this initiative, the State government has allocated nearly Rs.129 crore in the 2022-23 annual budget.
Interestingly, the UP government had informed the Centre that 177 samples were collected randomly. However, only 104 were tested in laboratories, and 102 samples were found in compliance with the standards. How students in different schools were served sub-standard meals remains a mystery.
The PAB wanted the State Government to ensure that suitable action is taken, in case samples do not meet standards. It also asked to carry out testing of samples to check quality and nutritional contents etc. through NABL / FSSAI Accredited laboratories across the State.
Millet soup for 7.75 lakh children
The Telangana government has proposed to provide Millet soup (Ragi Java) to 7.75 lakh children for 59 days in 16,828 schools in primary classes and sprouts with jaggery to 4.48 lakh children for 61 days in 7,277 schools in upper primary classes at an estimated expenditure of Rs.13.70 crore.
The State government got 33 samples of food tested through labs in the State. All the 33 samples were found to meet the norms prescribed under the scheme. The PAB appreciated these efforts and advised to continue testing of meal samples to check quality and nutritional contents through NABL or FSSAI accredited laboratories across the State.