Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel on Sunday said that since schools, colleges and anganwadis in the state are closed due to Covid-19 pandemic, as per a decision of the central government, parents of the children are being provided cash in lieu of the food that the government is unable to serve under mid-day-meal scheme.
From that cash, the parents have to buy additional ration from fair price shops, he added.
Interacting with media persons, the deputy chief minister was replying to a question about a notice by the Gujarat High Court to the state government over a survey conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) and UNICEF Gujarat.
The survey had found that among households with children enrolled in government schools, 85 per cent of parents were not able to access anything in lieu of mid-day meals since March, when the schools were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The HC took suo motu cognizance of a report in The Indian Express about the survey and issued notices to the two state authorities to file their replies by January 5.
Patel said, “Let me draw your attention to correct facts… In HC, we will submit our reply through our advocates on affidavit… during the corona (pandemic), schools, colleges, anganwadis, everything was closed. So, Central government decided… amount equal to food that was being served to children in anganwadis and which we (the government) are unable to provide currently, is being provided in cash per child per month to the family… by the government. From that amount, they (parents) have to buy the ration from fair price shops.”
“We can’t serve them cooked food because the kitchens (under the scheme) are not functioning. But in lieu of that, the government is providing cash to the family or parents of the children so that they can provide them nutritious food. And from that amount, those families are buying ration… for the past many months, we are sending the grant to the families directly every month,” he added.
Patel said that those families have to get the additional ration from the cash on their own, which they have been doing. “We will make full submission on this before the HC,” Patel said.
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