Children in South Delhi schools could very well be at a health risk as at least 120 school canteens under the jurisdiction of the South Municipal Corporation are running without the necessary trade licences or permissions from the health department.
The report of the audit, conducted for the record of the deputy health officer, South Zone, states that “canteens are running without licence in 120 public schools situated in South Zone, SMC”.
The auditor stated that the health of lakhs of students were being put at risk and the casualties could not be rules out. Recommending immediate action on the issue, the auditor pointed out that the unregulated business had resulted in loss of revenue to the corporation. “The corporation has already suffered a loss of Rs 3,60,000 in the last three years (2011 to 2014),” the report stated.
The report was brought to the notice of the Health department of the civic body in October 2012. However, neither the canteen owners nor the schools authorities got in touch with the department for a grant of license. On its part, the Health department too did not take cognizance of the matter or any action against the canteens for operating without licences.
On Tuesday, Leader of Opposition, Farhad Suri, brought the matter to the notice of the Standing Committee, while claiming that the Commissioner of the civic body was responsible for the lapses.
Section 421 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, states that “no person shall without. a license granted by the commissioner in this behalf, keep any eating house, lodging house, cafe, restaurant, refreshment room or any place where the public are admitted for response or for the consumption of food or drink…”.
Responding to the report, Standing Committee chairperson Satish Upadhyay directed the municipal health officer to conduct a fresh survey. “We will conduct a fresh survey and see which schools have canteens that are operating without permission. If the canteen are found guilty (of not having the necessary licenses), school authorities will be held responsible,” Upadhyay said.