At the moment, 38 non-profit organisations provide mid-day meals to government schools in the capital. Amid instances of children falling ill and to monitor the quality of food, the Delhi government has said it wants to bring in NGO Akshay Patra Foundation, which provides meals in several other states. But this is among the issues stuck in the tussle between the government and the Lt Governor.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India had, in 2015, pointed out the poor quality of food served in mid-day meals, saying 89% of samples tested between 2010-14 failed in nutritive value. Since then, the meal providers haven’t been changed.
In the assembly last year, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia had announced plans to rope in Akshay Patra on a pilot basis since the former L-G had said land sought by the foundation to build a kitchen could be given only for the AAP government’s remaining tenure. The foundation had sought land for 10-15 years.
But the foundation later agreed to prepare food in its own space. “… there was no land being allotted for the foundation… and some other objections were also raised,” said Atishi Marlena, former advisor to Sisodia. L-G Anil Baijal did not respond to queries on the issue. In April, he had said: “Communication of Deputy CM was received in September 2017, for in-principle approval of licence to use and allot 4 acres of government land to Akshay Patra without any tender or opportunity to other such NGOs.” The file was returned on October 20, 2017 and he added that “no proposal has been received back yet”.
In May, the government had invited proposals from NGOs to supply the meals. But four NGOs moved the court and on June 7, the HC quashed the Delhi government’s eligibility criteria, calling it “arbitrary”.