Bihar, Delhi Fared Worst in Mid-Day Meal Scheme Coverage in 2021-22
Representational use only.
New Delhi: Bihar and Delhi fared worst in the number of schoolchildren who were left out of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme (PM-POSHAN) and Food Security Allowance during the second year of the pandemic (2021-22).
Among the states, Bihar failed to provide free meals/allowance to 38% of children enrolled in primary classes and 68% in upper primary classes in government and government-aided schools while among the Union Territories (UTs), Delhi could not provide free meals/allowance to 27% of the students “due to shortage of food grains”, according to a Union government document.
The data on the coverage of school students in states and UTs under the scheme in 2021-22 were revealed in a meeting of the Programme Approval Board-Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman (PAB-PM POSHAN) held on May 9
Maharashtra and Goa, among states, and Ladakh, Lakshadweep and Puducherry, among UTs, topped with 100% coverage.
|STATES & UTs||Enrolment (Lakh)||Coverage (Lakh) Percentage of Coverage|
|Primary||Upper Primary||Primary||Upper Primary||Primary||Upper Primary|
|Andaman and Nicobar Islands||0.15||0.12||0.13||0.098||83.50%||79.70%|
|Dadra Nagar & Haveli & Daman & Diu||0.428||0.2||0.41||0.25||96%||97%|
|Jammu & Kashmir||5.46||2.98||5.29||2.85||97%||96%|
Data for Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Chandigarh and Uttarakhand are yet to be uploaded as of June 7, 2022.
In Bihar, 117 lakh children were enrolled in primary classes and 61.90 lakh in upper primary. Expressing concern over the dismal coverage of students under the scheme, the Board advised the Nitish Kumar-led government to take measures to ensure more students are covered.
Bihar was followed by Telangana, where 25% of 11.22 lakh children in primary classes and 29% of 6.68 lakh students in upper primary were not provided free meals.
Among the states which excelled in providing free meals to students, Maharashtra and Goa were followed by Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Nagaland with 99% coverage.
During the pandemic waves, students were provided the allowance due to the closure of schools. Among UTs, Lakshadweep and Puducherry provided the allowance to all the students while Delhi was ranked the lowest.
According to the data, 10,21,263 children were enrolled in primary classes and 7,87,414 in upper primary in Delhi. Out of these, on an average, the allowance was provided to 7,44,158 children (73%) in primary classes and 5,75,821 children (73%) in upper primary.
According to the minutes of the meeting, “The GNCT (Government of the National Capital Territory) of Delhi informed that against the PAB-PM POSHAN approval of children, additional coverage of 5,23,572 children was reported due to increase in the enrolment and further mentioned that due to shortage of food grains, coverage of all enrolled children fell short,”
Raising concern over the “issue of submitting the information to the ministry very late”, the PAB said that the GNCT of Delhi should have submitted proposal for approval of additional number of children after the second quarter of FY 2021-22. “The timely submission of additional proposal may have been helpful in covering all children against enrolment during closure of schools during pandemic.”
Pointing out that the lack of a “dedicated structure in the GNCT of Delhi for smooth implementation of PM-POSHAN”, the PAB said: “Since the last three to four years, in spite of repeated requests, the GNCT of Delhi has not registered all the 3,055 schools on MIS Web portal nor they have completed the annual and monthly data entries on the MIS portal till the current year.”
Out of the 3,055 schools in Delhi, only 430 have “kitchen gardens” due to lack of space, the PAB said advising the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government to “make concerted efforts for the development of school nutrition gardens in all schools”.
The Board also said that Delhi reported “utilisation of 2% of funds under Management Monitoring and Evaluation in the first three quarters of 2021-22” due to the “late release of Central share as well as state share from the state Finance Department”.
Alleging that the Centre didn’t release additional food grains to Delhi, an AAP government spokesperson told The Indian Express, “For each quarter, we lifted our allocated food grains and disbursed. Due to the uncertainty of schools reopening, the actual estimate of additional requirement could be made only in the last quarter, and the same was conveyed to the Central government. But the additional food grains has not been released to us.”
Besides, the allowance to be transferred to students through direct benefit transfer was received by the Delhi government “as late as mid-March”, the spokesperson said. “It is not logically or technically possible to disburse the same in the next 15 days. Our request to revalidate the disbursement in the current financial year is pending with Central government. We will be able to disburse the same as soon we receive their approval.”
The writer is an intern with Newsclick.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.