Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Substantial hike in funds for Midday Meals

NEW DELHI: The Centre has made a substantial hike in the fund allocation for the Midday Meal Scheme in Kerala for the academic year 2010-11. The state has been allocated Rs 218 crore - close to double the last year�s amount.

The scheme, for which a total of Rs 9,440 crore has been earmarked in the 2010 Budget, will now benefit 29.5 lakh children across the state.

�The Union Government increased the amount keeping in view the higher cooking costs, honorarium for cooks and helpers and the cost of food grains�, state Director of Public Instructions A P M Mohammed Hanish told Express. The amount will cover the cooking cost as well as the transport assistance and management costs of the scheme. Last year, Rs 117 crore was allocated for the scheme in the state.

Though Kerala is one of the states that successfully runs the programme, on the flip side, it had ran into rough weathers when the CAG in 2009 reported that a substantial portion of the rice stocks allotted under the scheme were sold through the outlets of the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation (SUPPLYCO) as ordinary rice, at yar-ends from 2003 to 2008.

The scheme was launched on August 15, 1995, as a centrally sponsored scheme, initially in 2,408 blocks in the country, with a view of enhancing enrolment, retention and attendance of children in schools, while simultaneously improving the nutritional levels.

By 1997-98, the scheme was introduced in all the blocks in the country and was further expanded in 2002 covering children of classes one to five in government, government-aided and local-body schools.

The National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education, which was popularly known as the Midday Meal scheme, was re-christened as the National Programme of Midday Meals in Shools in 2008 and was extended up to 8th standard.

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