The new academic year in government schools from Wednesday began with a huge pendency of Rs. 300 crore in payments to mid-day meal workers.
The workers are sore that they have not been paid the bills, including an honorarium of Rs. 1,000 a month and menu charges, for the past three months but officials say the problem was only with releases to ninth and tenth classes which has been solved by the State government. The Central and State governments share the expenditure in the ratio of 75 : 25 for classes one to eight. A sum of Rs. 900 crore was released for this category in 2012-13.
There are 12.74 lakh children in ninth and tenth, for who the government released Rs. 164 crore in 2012-13 at the rate of Rs. 4.65 per head. Another Rs. 26 crore was released for replacement of kitchen devices. The proposals for 2013-14 envisage Rs. 464 crore to meet the current bill and dues to workers.
The norms prescribed under the programme that the children be supplied two eggs or equal number of bananas a week and certain quantity of pulses and oil besides maintaining calories and proteins have gone for a toss in view of the pending bills.
Earlier, the in-charge headmaster was suspended at Ibrahimpatnam in Ranga Reddy district for allowing liquid pulse to be served to children.
The workers have also threatened to stop the programme for classes nine and ten in some villages of Nizamabad district.
The general secretary of AP Mid-Day Meal Workers Union S. Rama said the spiralling price of cooking gas, oil and other essentials hardly made the programme viable for workers. Four gas cylinders were required for 100 children every week. Rice, however, was supplied by the civil supplies corporation.
The women were financially stressed out as they borrowed money but could not repay due to accumulating bills.
The programme is implemented in 61,415 primary, 9,216 upper primary and 10,292 high schools for a total of 70.24 lakh children.