‘The committee should be headed by CM’

Janata Dal (S) Floor Leader in the Legislative Council M. C. Nanaiah on Tuesday demanded that a high-power committee led by the chief minister be constituted to improve the quality of food and upgrade the infrastructure under the mid-day meal scheme for school students.

Participating in a debate on the problems haunting the mid-day meal scheme – which was initiated to evolve precautionary measures to avert tragedies like the Bihar food adulteration episode, -- Mr. Nanaiah said the proposed committee should meet once in a month or three to regularly monitor the situation with respect to implementation of this scheme.

This committee should be supported by the district-level committees headed by the ministers, he said, while suggesting that such panels should look into the problems related to infrastructure, quality of food, supporting staff and hygiene.

“No scheme is more important than the mid-day meal scheme as it is aimed at taking care of the nutritional and food requirements of the country’s future generation. The state is spending only about Rs. 500 crore a year on this scheme. It is possible to upgrade the scheme itself by improving the food quality by spending another Rs. 250 crore,” he said.

Stressing the need for improving the scheme, he pointed out that 41 per cent of children in Karnataka too suffered from malnutrition as against the country’s average of 49 per cent.

Leader of the Opposition D. V. Sadananda Gowda expressed concern that the cooks and their assistants under the mid-day meal scheme got paltry salaries of Rs. 1,100 and 1,000. He urged the government to increase them to Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 4,000 respectively.

He also expressed concern over the unhygienic conditions under which the mid-day meal was cooked in various schools.

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