Centre censures J&K Govt over poor implementation of mid-day meal scheme

Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has pulled up the J&K government for its poor performance in the implementation of the mid-day meals (MDM) scheme in the state.

The state government was questioned for delaying release of MDM funds to schools which mars the actual purpose of the scheme in the state.

“There was a delay of more than four months in release of funds from state to school. During the field visit of MHRD officials it was observed that there were no funds received at school level till December 2018 for financial year 2018-19 for MDM scheme,” read the minutes of the a meeting of Programme Approval Board.

The Programme Approval Board (PAB) meeting was chaired in New Delhi by secretary education and literacy (MHRD), Rina Ray, on June 12 to consider the annual work plan and budget 2019-20 for J&K state.

According to the details of the meeting released by MHRD, the J&K government was asked to establish a mechanism to streamline flow of funds to schools by removing multiple channels of fund transfer.

“…So that it (Funds) could reached to school within 15 days (maximum) from the date of release by government of India,” read the minutes of the PAB June meeting.

The funds released by MHRD for construction of kitchen shed during 2006 to 2013 have been kept unspent till date, exposing the laxity of successive regime in utilising the central grants for proper implementation of the scheme in the state.

Rs 83.94 crore were released between 2006-07 and 2012-13 for construction of around 11815 Kitchen-and-stores in schools.

However, construction of kitchen sheds completed until March 31 is only in 7118 schools.

“Construction of 4697 kitchen cum stores is yet to be started due to administrative reasons.”

Now, the MHRD has set a deadline of September 2019 to complete the construction of remaining 4697 stores in schools.

“Or government should surrender the funds pertaining to those schools where they are not in position to start the construction of these kitchen stores,” the PAB meeting minutes read.

Given its failure in completion of previously approved kitchen stores, the J&K government has not submitted any proposal for new construction or repairing of old kitchen stores in schools.

The MHRD had released Rs 11.42 core from 2006-07 to 2014-15 for procurement of 22843 units of new kitchen devices.

“But the J&K government has procured only 21532 units of new kitchen devices and procurement is yet to be completed of 1311 unit of new kitchen devices due to administrative reasons,” the official document reads.

Also, the MHRD has turned down a proposal from the state government for replacement of 22341 units of old kitchen devices, which had a financial implication of Rs 28.94 core.

In the PAB meeting it was revealed that only 63 percent schools are cooking MDM for children using LPG, while as 27 percent schools still use firewood to cook the meals.

“Out of 23121 schools only 14567 are using LPG as mode of fuel to provide meals under MDM scheme. 6129 schools are using firewood due to non-availability of LPG in remote and hilly terrains of the state,” read the minutes of the meeting.