The Punjab Government will raise a demand before the Union Government for additional funds under the mid day meal scheme to feed all the students at the government and aided schools in the state.
The additional funds were needed after the state’s government schools registered a considerable increase in the enrollment of students for the current academic session.
This was disclosed by the Chief Secretary, Ms Vini Mahajan, after chairing the meeting of the steering-cum-monitoring committee of the mid day meal scheme, here on Monday.
She took stock of the implementation of the scheme aimed at providing nutritious food to the school kids studying at primary and upper primary classes in the government and government-aided schools in the state.
The Chief Secretary said the Union Government had provided funds for benefitting 14.05 lakh students during 2020-21,whereas in 2021-22, the provision has been made for feeding 15.83 lakh students, which was, however, not sufficient.
She said the enhanced number of beneficiary students under the mid day meal scheme was presently assessed at 16.91 lakh students in the state, which require additional funds. The remuneration of the mid day meal workers has also been increased, Ms Mahajan informed.
The Chief secretary hailed the Education department for the efficient implementation of the scheme during the academic session 2020-21 despite extremely difficult situations arising out in the wake of the Covid outbreak.
“Either dry ration or mid day meal was provided by the department despite schools being closed and about Rs 231 crore was directly transferred to the bank accounts of the school children towards cooking cost,” she noted, while stressing the need for further fortification of the meal.
The Secretary, School Education, Krishan Kumar, while apprising the Chief Secretary of the progress report, said the entire budget of Rs 350 crore allocated under the scheme had been properly utilised. The food grain was served among 15.83 lakh students of primary and upper primary classes studying at the 19,682 government and government-aided schools in the state. Besides, total cooking cost was deposited in the bank accounts of the students or their parents to facilitate them to prepare cooked food at their homes.
The Principal Secretary, Food and Supplies, KAP Sinha, apprised the Chief Secretary of the scheme under consideration to provide fortified rice in the mid day meal to ensure nutritious food to the students during the current financial year.
The Additional Chief Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayats, Principal Secretaries of Social Welfare of SC/BC, Health and Family Welfare, Finance, Social Securities, Women and Child Welfare, Planning, Food and Civil Supplies, General Manager FCI Punjab, MD Punsup, Director General School Education, DPI( SE) and DPI (EE) were among those who attended the meeting.