New Delhi: The Modi government is set to drastically overhaul the mid-day meal scheme, which it feels needs more monitoring, especially after the salt-roti incident at a government school in Uttar Pradesh.
There had been outrage after a school in Mirzapur was found serving salt with roti as its mid-day meal. The video had gone viral on 22 August. The row was further compounded after the journalist who broke the story, Pawan Kumar Jaiswal, was booked by the UP police.
The incident has pushed the Ministry of Human Resource Development to take up the revamp plan as a priority. This will include better plans for fund utilisation and monitoring at a micro level. There is, however, no proposal to change the diet being served to the children.
According to norms under the scheme, pulses, rice, rotis, vegetables, with fruits and milk on certain days, are to be served to school-going children to ensure necessary nutrition to them. The scheme is designed to provide a minimum of 450 calories per child per day, of which at least 12 grams should be of protein each day. These meals should be served to each child at least 200 days a year.
The ministry now wants to make sure that the scheme is implemented more efficiently across the country.
“We are working on changing the mid-day meal scheme and it will be a big revamp. Most changes will be related to financing and monitoring,” a senior HRD ministry official said.
“We are not planning on changing the meal type as many of the children come from poor families and the mid-day meal is the only nutritious one that they have in a day. We cannot change the menu from dal, roti, rice and such things to dry items.”
Micro-level monitoring begins
Monitoring at the micro level has already been started by the ministry. A daily report from schools all across the country, through state governments, is submitted to the ministry, which is further assessed by the school education department and issues, if any, are addressed.
The HRD ministry had sought a reply from the Uttar Pradesh government after the video of salt-roti being served to children went viral. In its response, the UP government has denied that the incident occurred, instead calling it “fake news” that was “concocted with the purpose of maligning the government’s reputation”.