Punjab school education minister Vijay Inder Singla Sunday said that foodgrains and cooking cost distribution for midday meals has started in the state even for the summer holidays period, ‘first time in the history’.
This comes a day after The Indian Express in a report highlighted that the students in the government schools of Punjab weren’t given the ration and cooking cost under mid day meal scheme for the period of April 16 to June 30.
“In the tough times due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, our government is ensuring delivery of foodgrains at the doorsteps and cooking cost in the banks accounts of the students. And for the first time we have allocated ration and cooking costs for summer holidays, which were declared from April 11 to May 10 this year,” Singla said.
He was at Bhawanigarh in Sangrur to award silver and bronze certificates to Covid Warriors.
The minister said that apart from summer holidays, Sundays and other holidays have also not been deducted from the allocation of mid day meal ration to students for the period of 49 days, starting from March 23 to May 10. He added that after May 11, the foodgrains have been allocated for all working days.
Incidentally, as per the order dated July 3 issued by the mid day meal division of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), this year students will also receive foodgrains and cooking cost for June (which otherwise is a vacation month), as “a one time special measure due to Covid-19” so as “to enable them to meet their nutritional requirement and to safeguard their immunity which is very vital during Covid-19 pandemic”. The MHRD had issued these orders for all the states and UTs, not Punjab alone.
Meanwhile, Singla claimed that 8262.23 metric tonnes (MT) of foodgrains had been sent to the schools to deliver rice and wheat in sealed packets to the students for the first financial quarter of the academic session 2020-21. He added that for the second quarter (July 20-September 20), allocation of 11,974 MT will also be delivered at schools soon.
“The cooking amount is also being transferred in the accounts of students but we are still waiting for a nod from the MHRD for releasing the cooking amount in cash to the beneficiary students. Apart from the written communiqué, I had also taken up the issue with the HRD minister but reply is still awaited,” he added.
Meanwhile, three of four families, which were highlighted by The Indian Express in the report dated July 25, received their pending ration for April 16-June 30. The schools also received cooking cost amount and teachers said that soon they will be transferred into accounts of children. The MHRD had sought an action taken report from Punjab for negligence in implementation of mid day meal scheme during pandemic.
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