Over the last three years, the Union government has received 52 complaints regarding corruption under the Midday Meal Scheme (MDMS), of which the largest is regarding the state of Uttar Pradesh, the HRD Ministry told Parliament on Monday.
This revelation comes soon after the UP government had filed a case against a journalist after he reported how students in a government primary school in Mirzapur were served only roti and salt for the midday meal.
The second largest number of corruption complaints came from Bihar (11), followed by West Bengal (6). Out of the total 52 complaints, 47 are under inquiry, three were proved to be baseless and two resulted in action.
The overall responsibility for providing cooked and nutritious midday meal to eligible children lies with state governments and administration of Union territories, HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal said in a written reply to a question by MP Bharati Pravin Pawar.
In response to another question on MDMS, the ministry informed the House that 931 children had fallen ill after eating their midday meal in the last three years and the current year. Of these, the largest number of such case were reported from Jharkhand (259), Maharashtra (201) and Uttar Pradesh (154).
As many as 709 posts for Sanskrit teachers are vacant across Sanskrit Mahavidyalayas in the country, the HRD Ministry also told Parliament.
This information assumes significance in the backdrop of a section of students at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) protesting the appointment of a Muslim professor to the Sanskrit Vidhya Dharma faculty. The protesting students have maintained that they are not opposing the appointment of a Muslim professor, but the recruitment of a non-Hindu for teaching a subject associated with the religion. However, the university administration has backed post-doctoral scholar Feroze Khan, saying that his appointment was on merit.