New Delhi: Nearly six months after 23 school children died consuming mid-day meal in Bihar, the HRD ministry has finally found time to hold the meeting of the empowered committee that was set up in the aftermath of the tragedy.
The meeting of the mammoth empowered committee that has representatives from more than ten ministries and departments and NGOs will be held on February 4. Note for the meeting admits that kitchen-cum-stores continue to be a cause of concern. HRD ministry had circulated a design of the kitchen-cum-store to all the states for safe storage of food, cooking of mid-day meal in hygienic environment and a place for washing hands by the students. So far, construction has been completed for 6.5 lakh kitchen-cum-stores out of sanctioned 10 lakh. But the work on construction of kitchen-cum-stores has not started in 91% sanctioned kitchen-cum-stores in Andhra Pradesh, 67% in Kerala, 62% in Manipur, 49% in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, 36% in Jharkhand, 31% in Haryana, 27% in Uttarakhand and 21% in Bihar.
As for procurement of pulses, seasonal vegetables, salt and condiments, edible oils and fuel, only the state governments of Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab are procuring and supplying ingredients, through the state public state undertakings. HRD ministry has advised other states to follow the same mechanism for supply of quality Agmark pulses, edible oils and condiments for MDM to ensure nutritional food for the children.
In order to train cooks, help of ministry of tourism was taken. So far Institutes of Hotel Management (IHMs) and the Food Craft Institutes have trained cook-cum-helpers in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Goa, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Dadra & Nagar Haveli. Separately, NGOs have trained 470 cook-cum-helpers in five states.
HRD ministry is also seeking cooperation of other ministries in strengthening MDM. For instance, in the construction of kitchen-cum-store funds will be sourced from rural development ministry’s Sampurna Grameen Rozgar Yojana in rural areas, from Urban Wage Employment Programme, a component of Swarna Jayanti Shahri Rozgar Yojana for urban areas outside slums. For water supply and sanitation, funds can be sourced from National Rural Drinking Water Programme for rural drinking water and Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan for rural sanitation. For kitchen devices, funds from Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan can be sourced.