Due to paucity of money in government schools of Jharkhand, mid-day meal has come to a standstill. Even after passing four and a half months of the financial year 2022-23, the state has not received any amount for this scheme. State Education Minister Jagannath Mahato has appealed to the Central Government regarding this. He has said that along with mid-day meal, the amount of Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan has also not been released by the Center. This has created a huge problem.
He has met the Union Minister of State for Education Annapurna Devi and requested for personal initiative in this matter.
According to official sources, in the meeting of the Project Approval Board (PAB) of the Central and Jharkhand Government, Rs 900 crore has been approved for the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan and Rs 630 crore for the mid-day meal scheme. According to the rules, 60 percent of this amount is to be met from the central government, while the state government will give 40 percent from its treasury. It is being told that the state government can also spend the amount of its item only when the amount of its share comes from the Centre.
Experts say that the amount of the first installment usually comes from the central government by the month of June, but the month of August is also half over, but the amount has not come.
In about 41 thousand primary and upper primary schools of the state, more than 33 lakh children are provided mid-day meals in the schools itself. It is mandatory to provide mid-day meal in schools as per the order of the Supreme Court.
It is noteworthy that the government provides rice for the mid-day meal in schools, while the amount for pulses, oil, spices, vegetables, fruits, eggs and cooking costs is provided according to the number of students. The cooking cost is Rs 4.97 for each child of classes I to V and Rs 7.45 for children of classes VI to VIII. For the period from April to June in the state, funds were made available in this item. Schools have not received any money in this item since July.
The situation is that the managing committees and teachers of the schools have been providing mid-day-meal for the last two months by borrowing from the shops. Teachers say that if the government does not provide funds, the shopkeepers will stop giving ration and in such a situation the distribution may stop.
The Jharkhand government has made it mandatory to give eggs or fruits to children five days a week in the mid-day meal and for this an additional budget of about Rs 400 crore has been fixed annually. Official sources say that this situation has arisen due to non-receipt of mid-day meal amount from the central government. State Education Secretary Rajesh Sharma said that about Rs 650-700 crore is provided by the Central Government for mid-day meal, which is still not available.
Here, many schemes are getting affected due to non-receipt of funds from the Center for Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan. There is no distribution of clothes among the school children. The education department has made an allotment for the dress, but due to lack of funds, it is not being paid.