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Students discharged but mid-day meal scheme handling still poses a threat

Saturday September 17, 2011 06:02:59 PM, Staff Reporter

Students admitted in the hospital after having mid-day meal are being treated in Malegaon General Hospital


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Malegaon: Two days after the mid-day meal scandal which created havoc in Malegaon, most of the students are discharged from the hospital. Rest others will follow them in a day or two. However, poor handling across the city schools of the government’s mid-day meal scheme introduced to improve student attendance still poses a threat. And, there is every possibility that the incident might repeat itself in some other school if corrective measures are not taken immediately.

“Certainly there are schools where the management is taking utmost care to maintain the quality of the served food. But they are just very few. At remaining others the situation is really dangerous”, convener of Citizens for Development & Peace (CDP) Abu Zohair said while speaking to

Malegaon, besides having more than two dozens private schools, has over 100 Urdu and Marathi medium schools. As part of the mid-day meal scheme, every school is liable to serve food in the schools for which the government is spending a huge amount. But allegations of irregularities and charges of corruption are being leveled ever since the scheme was introduced few years back.

“These are not mere allegations. In fact criminal charges of theft and corruption were filed with the police against some schools on more than one occasion in the past”, Abu Zohair said.

It is learnt that complaints against these schools were filed when it was found that they sold the government supplied rice in the market and served the food to the students prepared using poor quality rice.

“Also, to prepare the food, which in most of the cases is khichdi, contracts are given at much lower rates than what the schools are getting from the government. Moreover, no food inspector ever visited any school nor is there any in-house mechanism to benchmark the quality of the food served”, Sabir Jalaluddin, a parent, said.

It is also alleged that a very strong lobby from top to bottom is involved in ‘managing to their advantages’ the huge funds released by the government as part of Serva Shiksha Abhyan (SSA) and mid-day meal. Few months back, a criminal case was also filed against the local in-charge of the department responsible for release of the funds for the mid-day meal and rice distribution. But he has been let off reportedly because of the backing he enjoyed from this strong lobby.

Against this backdrop it would be interesting to see what action the district administration led by collector Mr P Velrasu takes in the present circumstances. For, following the civil rights movement against corruption, it is being said that a new atmosphere of corruption-free and effective administration is taking shape in the entire country. Only a quick and firm action against the culprits will determine what impact this widely speculated atmosphere has on Nashik district.






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