Nearly two months after the ‘namak-roti' fiasco at a primary school in Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh, now, a primary school in the tribal area of Sonbhadra district has been accused of serving adulterated milk to the students under the mid-day meal scheme on November 27.
As per the menu of the mid-day meal scheme, prescribed by the Uttar Pradesh government, tehri and milk are supposed to be given to the students. But the authorities at the Salai Banwa Primary School in Kota village of the Sonbhadra district reportedly added a bucket of water to one litre of milk, and served it to 81 children.
When the matter came to light, the school in-charge initially shirked the responsibility. Then, he was seen making excuses. The block education officer of the area admitted that complaint regarding this incident has been received, and said that action will be taken after further investigation.
According to reports, there are 171 students enrolled with this primary school and on November 27, 81 of them were present.
Dinkar Kapoor, state committee member of Swaraj Abhiyan based in Sonbhadra, told NewsClick, “The condition of primary schools and mid-day meals in Sonbhadra district is worse than any other district of state. According to NITI Aayog data, 56% people of this district are suffering from malnutrition and the number has surged to 70% for those below five years of age. Primary schools in Sonbhadra only serve rice (boiled) and water instead of using pulses and in vegetables, only potato and brinjal.”
When asked if sweaters and shoes have been distributed among the students, Kapoor said, “Nothing has been given to the children here in primary schools. These primary schools are located in tribal areas. This school is being run with the help of shiksha mitras, as most of the schools face shortage of teachers. These shiksha mitras are also involved by the government in other activities like door-to-door verification. This is why Sonbhadra stands at number 19 in 101 backward districts of the country.”
Meanwhile, calls made to the Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) of Sonbhadra and District Magistrate remained unanswered.
UP: MOST CORRUPT IN TERMS OF MID-DAY MEALS DISTRIBUTION
Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government is increasingly facing the heat over its handling of primary schools in the state, especially with regard to serving nutritious mid-day meals.
Recently, the Minister of Human Resource Development (HRD) Ramesh Pokhriyal revealed in Lok Sabha that Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of corruption cases in the mid-day meal scheme.
According to Pokhriyal, the government has received 52 complaints about corruption in the implementation of the mid-day meal scheme with Uttar Pradesh recording the maximum number of complaints (14).
According to the latest data (2018-19) provided by Programme Approval Board (PAB), which monitors and approves annual work plan and budgets for the mid-day meal scheme, 1.10 crore students were supposed to receive mid-day meals in primary and upper primary schools. But actually, only 1.02 crore students were given mid-day meals. This means that 7.7 lakh students did not receive their meals. Cases like Mirzapur and Sonbhadra also raise questions on the nutritiousness of the meals being served to the children.
Also read: Sweater Distribution in UP: Govt Fails to Adhere to Deadline