The CAG has flagged several deficiencies in the mid-day meal scheme in schools of Punjab like unhygienic cooking conditions and inferior quality of food. In its latest performance audit report, the government auditor found school children themselves washing utensils despite cook-cum-helpers hired to do the job.
Besides this, it was revealed that there was no testing of water samples, no use of gloves by cooks while cooking and violation of prescribed menu under the scheme. The audit report observed that due to non-establishment of centralised kitchens in Amritsar and Patiala districts, the quality of food served under the scheme was not being maintained as per norms.
CAG, while citing examples, found unhygienic ‘roti’ making conditions in Amritsar. In Patiala, poor quality ‘roti’ (bread) was being served to children and boiled potato was served against the prescribed menu of potato with black gram. In Amritsar, Patiala and Sangrur, while 83 to 88 per cent of children consumed mid-day meal cooked in school premises, only 72 to 79 per cent consumed MDM prepared by NGOs which was indicative of the poor quality of food being prepared by NGOs, the report said.
603 cook-cum-helpers (CCH) were engaged in centralised kitchens run by NGOs in eight districts for preparation and delivery of MDM in 1,501 primary and upper primary schools. 320 CCHs were engaged in the schools for serving MDM to children and washing utensils, it said. It was also found that meals were not being served and utensils were not being cleaned by the CCHs engaged by NGOs.