NGOs throw up hands: Impossible to make midday meals at Rs 3.34 per child

Price rise as high as 40 per cent a year,fund allocation rising only 7.5 per cent

Written by Shikha Sharma | New Delhi | Published: August 7, 2013 12:21 am

The cost of making midday meals is rising,thanks to the increase in prices of essential commodities last year,and the NGOs responsible for feeding nearly 10 lakh schoolchildren in Delhi are finding it difficult to provide quality meals within the government’s allocation of Rs 3.34 per child per day.

This has literally pushed the NGOs supplying meals to the capital’s 1,800 government schools to the wall,prompting them to write to the Education department,asking them to either release additional funds allocated by the Centre or face the possibility of shutdown.

Inflation has led to the rise in price of pulses,vegetables,gas and diesel has increased production cost by around 40 per cent,but the increase in funds has failed to keep pace. Every NGO receives Rs 3.34 per day per child for primary school students and Rs 5 for upper primary students,which includes transport and distribution costs.

“The government has only been increasing allocation by 7.5 per cent each year since 2010… providing a quality meal at Rs 3.34 is impossible” Harish Kumar of Bharat Manav Kalyan Parishad,which supplies meals to around 80,000 children in Delhi,said.

The Ministry of HRD had allocated Rs 1,000 for every cook-cum-helper employed by the NGO in 2010,but the NGOs are yet to receive the corpus. “Every year,the centre has been releasing the fund to the Delhi government,and the government has been sending it back,” Anil Aggarwal of Ekta shakti foundation,an NGO that caters to 1.3 lakh civic school students and 40,000 government school students,said.

After the cap on LPG cylinders was lifted late last year,a subsidy of 50 paise per child was supposed to be given to the NGOs to manage their rising fuel costs. NGOs say they are yet to get the money. They had written to the Special Secretary (Education) in July,stating that they will withdraw their services if the funds are not released in 15 days.

Over the course of the year,more than 80 per cent of the samples tested for requisite amount of calories and protein have failed nutrition standards prescribed by MHRD.

M K Bedi of Estri Shakti,an NGO that caters to three lakh civic school students,says: “While the nutritional standards have been increased by 50 per cent to 450 calories and 12 gram protein (per meal),there hasn’t been any allocation for the increased costs,” Bedi said.

When asked,a senior official of the Education department said,“We needed to get into a new agreement with NGOs to release the funds for the cook-cum-helper. All modalities have been figured out,and we will release the funds in a week. Regarding fuel subsidy,we have sent the file to MHRD and are awaiting a response.”

Education Minister Kiran Walia told the Education department to make funds available as soon as possible.

“The process has been delayed by a year,but we will ensure that the funds are released immediately,” she said.

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