The Ministry of Food and Public Distribution has decided to no longer give foodgrains for Midday meals on credit. Beginning next April, the Ministry of HRD will have to pay in advance for foodgrains used to feed schoolchildren.
An order issued by the Department of Food and Public Distribution on September 9 says: “It has been decided that in order to reduce the increasing interest burden of FCI, in case of MDM scheme also w.e.f. April 1, 2015, foodgrains will be supplied on per-payment basis.”
This is a first since the inception of the Midday Meal scheme. A similar decision was taken in December 2013, but was not followed through after then HRD minister Pallam Raju protested.
The September 9 order requests the HRD Ministry “to initiate necessary action immediately in order to ensure advance payment of due amount to FCI for foodgrains to be supplied by it for MDM w.e.f. April 1, 2015”.
The cost of foodgrains under the Mid-Day Meal scheme is borne by the central government, while other costs are shared between the Centre and state governments.
Sources in the Food department said several state governments were not making payments on time, and a lot of money was outstanding from states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
Sources in the HRD Ministry confirmed the receipt of the Food Ministry order.