With some States defaulting on payment of their share of funds for providing meals to children in government schools, adversely affecting the implementation of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, the Centre has now asked all States to consider adopting Andhra Pradesh's model ‘Green Channel Scheme.' The A.P. model makes funds available throughout the year.

“All States and Union Territories may take the lead from Andhra Pradesh and streamline the release of funds,” a communication from the Human Resource Development Ministry says. It also asks them to furnish their expenditure position on time, along with the quarterly report.

An analysis of the annual plan proposals received from the States and Union Territories has revealed that only 3 meetings of the State Steering-cum-Monitoring Committee (SSMC), headed by the State Chief Secretary, were held in 2011-12, as against once every quarter as mandated in the guidelines.

The SSMC is an apex body at the State level for guiding, monitoring, and implementing the scheme.

Manipur has convened three meetings of SSMC; Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Odisha, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Chandigarh, and Daman and Diu two each; Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Delhi and Lakshadweep one, while the remaining are yet to convene a meeting.

The Centre spent approximately Rs. 10,000 crore on the programme in 2011-12, excluding the contribution of the States and subsidy on food grain. The Centre provides 75 per cent funds, while the States contribute the remaining 25 per cent to implement the scheme. This helps prevent classroom hunger and also promotes school participation and retention at the elementary level. It also fosters social and gender equity. The government partly credits this scheme for the drop — from 21.59 percentage points to 16.68 percentage points — recorded between male and female literacy rates in the 2001 Census and the 2011 Census. While the overall literacy rate has increased by 9.81 per cent, it has improved by 11.84 per cent in the case of females.\

Progress report

However, the latest progress report of the Mid-Day Meal scheme shows that at present, 72 per cent of the enrolled children have been covered. While Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Lakshadweep, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Puducherry, Mizoram, Karnataka and Assam have reported more than 90 per cent coverage, in Bihar, Chandigarh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Delhi the coverage is less than the national average. In fact, some States have even shown a drop compared to the previous year.

An analysis of data has shown that coverage is less than 70 per cent in 61 districts at the upper primary level, and 42 districts at the primary level.

Similarly, there is a mismatch between consumption of food grain and utilisation of cooking gas in various States. While utilisation of cooking gas is higher compared to food grain consumption in Gujarat, Puducherry, Goa, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh and Lakshadweep, it is the reverse in Mizoram, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Kerala, Manipur, Assam and Nagaland.

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