The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has slammed the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) for compromising with safety and hygiene standards of the Midday Meal Scheme and called for action against the corporation.
Midday meal is served to around 2 lakh students studying in the government and government-aided institutes in the city. The Chandigarh Administration has roped in CITCO, Chandigarh Institute of Hotel Management (CIHM) and Ambedkar Institute of Hotel Management (AIHM) for cooking midday meal. The report for the period 2009 to 2014 tabled in the Parliament on December 18 stated that midday meal was being cooked in unhygienic conditions by CITCO. The report pointed out that broken and unclean utensils were being used for cooking in an area dimly lit. CITCO prepares the meals on the premises of Hotel Shivalikview in Sector 17.
Kavita Singh, managing director, CITCO, said, “Earlier, a contractor used to cook the midday meals for us. After we came to know that children were facing problems after eating the food, the contractor was removed and the staff of CITCO took over. She claimed that she regularly inspects food being served at various schools.
The report also pointed out that the administration had not engaged reputed institutes and laboratories to take samples for inspections. The audit revealed that the number of prescribed inspections was around 40 per cent of the required number.
Avoidable expenditure of Rs 5.61 crore
The report stated that the administration incurred an avoidable expenditure of Rs 5.61 crore on cooking due to delay in commissioning and non-optimal utilisation of cluster kitchens.
As per the report, seven cluster kitchen-cum-stores, each with a cooking capacity of 10,000 to 15,000 meals per day, were constructed at a cost of Rs 1.51 crore during 2009-10 to supply midday meal to all 16 schools of Chandigarh. While one cluster kitchen was commissioned in April 2012, the remaining were commissioned in July 2013. The audit observed that the cluster kitchens were not utilised to their optimal capacity as meals in these kitchens were cooked only for the seven schools in which these were situated. Meals for the remaining 109 schools were supplied by CIHM, AIHM and CITCO. The average cooking cost of Rs 5.71 per meal in cluster kitchens was less than the average cooking cost of Rs 7.25 per meal paid to the cooking institutes. The administration failed to take benefits of cluster kitchens and as a result Rs 1.51 crore used on their construction was largely rendered unfruitful.
Short-lifting of foodgrains
The report observed that Chandigarh consistently short-lifted foodgrains from 2009 to 2014 ranging between 49 per cent and 67 per cent of the total allocation. Utilisation of foodgrains per child per day ranged between 62 grams and 87 grams and 70 and 107 grams in the primary and upper primary levels, respectively, as against the prescribed norms of 100 grams /150 grams.