Mid-Day Meals: Centre picks holes in implementation across Jammu & Kashmir

UMER MAQBOOL

Srinagar, Dec 31: The J&K Government has failed to ensure proper implementation of the Mid-Day Meals scheme in schools across the State, despite admonishing by the Government of India and the monitoring agency.
 A latest communiqué from the Centre to the State Government reveals that there are large scale loopholes in implementation of the program. The findings are based on a Joint Review Mission of the program by a team comprising representatives of the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, Supreme Court Commissionerate for MDM and State Government.
 In the letter, Joint Secretary MHRD Amarjit Singh has apprised the Commissioner/ Secretary, School Education Department Farooq Ahmad Faktoo about the lacunas and loopholes detected by the team during its visit to educational institutions of Ganderbal in Kashmir and Udhampur in Jammu in the last week of September this year.
 Even questions have been raised over transparency and accountability of the program. “In some of the visited schools, the records were not maintained properly. In several schools cooking cost is paid through self/ bearer cheques, and this increases the chances of money being siphoned off. It is important that an account is opened for all schools for managing MDM money in the school to reduce the chances of funds being diverted. Importantly, the teachers did not have any idea about the period of time they were allocated food grains last time, which has resulted primarily because the coupons/ challans provided to them by concerned ZEO office. They do not mention the month/ quarter for which food grains were provided. This has affected transparent functioning of the scheme in the State,” the communiqué reads.
 According to the letter, the systemic failure to supply food grains well in advance has resulted in disruption of the scheme.
 “The field observations have shown that there has been disruption in providing MDM in almost all schools of Ganderbal and in some of the schools of Udhampur district. This disruption is primarily due to non-availability of food grains in schools,” it reads.
 Virtually snubbing the State Level Steering and Monitoring Committee of the program on its failure to meet on regular basis, the Centre says: “Some of these issues could have been addressed if the State Level Steering and Monitoring Committee met regularly to review these issues. We had requested you in April 2012, in this regard, unfortunately, even now, the meeting has not been held.”
 The State Government has also come in the line of fire for its failure to implement the School Health program in letter and spirit.
 “The program is not implemented properly in the State. In Ganderbal, only the children in schools near urban health centres had health checkups and schools located in interior areas and far-off ones are only visited by health teams. In Ganderbal district there was lack of clarity between School Education and Health Departments as to who will take the initiative first,” the letter further reads.
 The team during its visit also found that cooking costs were not reimbursed to schools on time. “In the Kashmir division, the cooking costs were not reimbursed from May 2012 onwards. In Jammu division, in some cases the reimbursement to teachers has been made after 6 months. This delayed reimbursement process would not only compromise the quality of meal provided in the schools but puts entire responsibility of managing meals on the teachers,” it further reads.
 The letter also states that the norms of MHRD  vis-à-vis appointment of cooks are not followed by State Government and there is also huge delay in paying honorarium to them.

Lastupdate on : Mon, 31 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 31 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 1 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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