New Delhi: Days after a dead rat was found in a mid-day meal, 28,000 children in 75 government-aided schools in Western Uttar Pradesh have not been getting mid-day meal (MDM) since the past two days, as an FIR has been filed against the NGO that supplied the meals.
Taking serious cognisance of the matter, the district administration has blacklisted Jan Kalyan Sanstha Samiti of Hapur — which supplied food to the school, Janta Inter College at Mustafabad Pacheda village, where some students were taken ill and hospitalised.
As a result, around 28,000 students of 75 inter-colleges of Meerut district are starved for the second consecutive day after teachers reportedly did not allow mid-day meals to be distributed citing “inferior quality” food.
According to reports, prompt action was taken against the contractor after word of the incident reached the school authorities. The supplier’s contract for delivering mid-day meals was cancelled,
Three NGOs were deployed in 75 inter colleges of Meerut district to cater to about 28,000 students up to class VIII. After the dead rat incident, the Public Welfare Committee of Hapur has also been blacklisted, while food distribution by the United Association of Badaun and Shri Balaji NGO of Meerut was also not allowed, as per reports.
Speaking to Newsclick over the issue, the principal of a primary school in Meerut, on the condition of anonymity, said, "In every incident of mid-day meal, the principal, teachers or shiksha mitras have been wrongly framed for no fault of theirs. So, we have disallowed the mid-day meal distribution until there is a solution."
When asked why students were being deprived of mid-day meals, the principal said, "Whatever we receive, we distribute among students and one day if anything goes wrong, we are blamed. So, we have decided that unless government and district administration do not sit together and decide what to serve in mid-day meals and who will be a good supplier, we will not allow anyone to distribute meals in our schools."
The principal further said: "Under the new guidelines, it was assured that monthly tests of meals on a random basis would be conducted by accredited laboratories to check quality, but that never happened."
Sushil Gautam, a social activist based in Meerut, told NewsClick, "The general refrain is that none of the government schools in Western Uttar Pradesh, be it Meerut, Saharanpur or Baghpat, etc. follow government directives while serving meals to students, as per the menu fixed for each day. This is bound to happen when schools are following the guidelines. If a government representative pays a visit to any primary school in our area, he will be surprised by the pathetic condition in these schools. The government is not concerned about poor kids studying in government schools."
Pinning the blame on the state government, he said: "The rules of mid-day meals say the state governments concerned will fix responsibility on the person or agency if meals are not provided on three consecutive school days or five days in a month, but who will ask the government."
The mid-day meal controversy erupted on December 2 after a dead rat was found in the food served in a school in UP's Muzaffarnagar district. Eight students and a teacher of Janata Inter-College in Mustafabad fell ill and were hospitalised.
In a similar case of negligence, a primary school in the tribal area of Sonbhadra district has been accused of serving one-litre milk diluted with a bucket of water to school children.
Read More: UP School Children Seen Eating Roti-Salt, Data Suggests Huge Scam in Mid-Day Meal Scheme