Children under mid-day meal scheme to get aid
- The Centre has decided to give about ?100 each to children studying in Class 1 to Class 8 in government schools, who are beneficiaries of the Mid-Day Meal scheme.
- It is aimed at safeguarding the nutritional levels of children and ensuring their immunity is protected.
- ?1200 crore in total would be given to 11.8 crore children through direct benefit transfer (DBT) as a one-time payment.
- The Central Government will provide additional funds of about ?1200 crore to States and Union Territories.
- The money comes from the cooking cost component of the scheme.
- The Central allocation for the Mid-Day Meal scheme in 2021-22 is ?11,500 crore.
- Its largest component is cooking costs, which cover the prices of ingredients such as pulses, vegetables, cooking oil, salt, and condiments.
- In 2020, the minimum allocation for cooking cost per child per day was set at ?4.97 for Classes 1 to 5, and ?7.45 for Classes 6 to 8, with the Centre paying 60% of the cost.
- Children are being given cash in lieu of the mid-day meal in some places and dry rations in others. However, the quantities/amounts are too low to be even adequate for one nutritious meal a day.
- ?100 per child amounts to less than ?4 a day, even if it was a monthly payment, this is insufficient to provide the nutrition security that is envisaged.
- With approximately 200 school days, each child should be getting something like ?900-?1300 annually [as cooking cost component].
- Also, while the schools can purchase ingredients at wholesale prices, with the same amount, parents will be able to purchase much less.
- In 2020, hardly any State provided free grain or transferred these cooking costs. The children must be transferred the arrears from the previous year as well.
- Enhanced take-home rations, including eggs, vegetables, fruits, dal/chana, oil must be given to ensure nutrition security.