Castigates six States for diversion of funds and foodgrains under the initiative
Noting diversion of funds and foodgrains under the ambitious Mid-Day Meal Scheme in Kerala, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Nagaland and Bihar, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has said confirmed cases of diversion are indicative of widespread fiscal indiscipline in implementing the scheme. Institutional apathy and lack of concerted efforts should not be allowed to creep into such an important social welfare initiative, it said. The committee has deplored the failure of the administrative machinery to enforce strict fiscal discipline in implementation of the scheme.
“Though the Ministry [Human Resource Development] has asked the States concerned to initiate appropriate action to recoup the cost of diverted funds and foodgrains and fix responsibility, no concrete action has been taken as yet for initiating appropriate action in this regard. In these circumstances, the Ministry needs to urge the authorities concerned to be more vigilant and serious in their approach. They should give proper attention and care to its implementation with a sense of dedication to ensure resounding success of this scheme meant to uplift the children of the disadvantaged sections of society,” the PAC report said.
The committee has noted with dismay the diversion of funds and foodgrains and said the six States should identify the exact reasons for such diversion to obviate such instances in future.
Though the committee acknowledged certain basic measures undertaken by the HRD Ministry to remove the huge pendency in the construction of kitchen sheds/ kitchen-cum-stores, which were crucial for maintaining quality of the meals, it emphasised that still much effort was needed to construct the remaining structures numbering around 2,62,809.
The committee has opined that providing hygienic meals still remains an unsurpassed challenge and pointed out that lapses could be reduced to a great extent by ensuring availability of kitchens in schools.
The committee has suggested that priority must be accorded on providing kitchen infrastructure to all schools, possibly during this financial year. It has also said that engagement of cook and helpers for preparing and serving the mid-day meal should be incorporated in the Management Information System reports generated by schools to facilitate closer and proper monitoring.