West Bengal Panchayat and Rural Development minister Subrata Mukherjee on Wednesday welcomed the latest decision of the Centre not to deprive children, without Aadhaar cards, benefits of Mid-Day Meal and said good sense had prevailed at long last. “Despite being late in arriving at the decision, it appears good sense has finally prevailed on the Centre,” Mukherjee told reporters on the sidelines of the International Women’s Day celebrations by Panchayats and Rural Development department in Kolkata.
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He was asked to comment on the statement issued by the Cabinet Secretariat on Tuesday not to deprive beneficiaries of certain programmes for want of Aadhaar card till Aadhaar number is assigned to the concerned persons.
The cabinet statement read, “In case of Mid-Day Meal scheme and under the Integrated Child Development Scheme, the schools and Anganwadis have been asked to collect the Aadhaar number of the children beneficiaries and in case a child does not have Aadhaar, the school or ICDS functionary will be required to provide enrolment facilities to a child and till Aadhaar number is assigned, the benefits will continue.”
“It is good that the step to make Aadhaar mandatory immediately has been withdrawn. Food should not have been snatched away from the children in schools in the first place,” Mukherjee said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had on Saturday condemned the Centre’s decision to make Aadhaar cards mandatory for availing the midday meal scheme and accused it of snatching the rights of the poor.
“Now even infants (0-5 years) will need Aadhaar cards? Aadhaar card for mid-day meals and ICDS? Shocking! 100 Days Work also not spared. Instead of helping the poorest of the poor, the downtrodden and our favorite children, why are their rights being snatched away?,” Banerjee had said in her tweet.