Rs. 955.46 crore allocated for the programme in 2006-2007
Two eggs a week provided with mealStrategy now is to prevent malnutrition
New Delhi: Tamil Nadu informed the Supreme Court on Thursday that it was ahead of other States in the implementation of the nutritious noon meal scheme. Under the scheme, it had covered over 72 lakh children in 87,070 centres.
The State made the submission before a Bench, comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia, in response to a notice sent in December last on a petition filed by the People's Union for Civil Liberties, seeking proper implementation of the scheme.
Pensioners also covered
In its affidavit, the State said: "The budget allocation for this programme, which was Rs. 107.14 crore in 1982-83, has gone up to Rs. 955.46 crore in 2006-2007. Under this scheme, children from pre-school to class 10 (age group 2 to 15) are covered, besides pre-natal, post-natal mothers and old age pensioners.
"From July 15, 2006, two eggs a week are being provided with the noon meal. The strategy of Tamil Nadu now is to prevent malnutrition rather than the management of malnutrition. It is pertinent to point out that Tamil Nadu's experience suggests that a well-devised school meal programme has much to contribute to the advancement of elementary education, retention of children in schools, child nutrition and social equity.
"The effect of this scheme is seen in the increased enrolment and increase in retention in schools. The children, who are in the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) centres, are more attentive, active and bright from the primary school stage. Tamil Nadu Government's Puratchi Thalaivar MGR Nutritious Meal Programme is not only much more comprehensive, but also has a wider coverage with innovative features than any other noon meal programme run by any other State Government in the country as a whole. The programme is implemented on all 365 days of the year in Tamil Nadu."
Further, all funds allocated for the ICDS scheme or the Pradhanmantri Gramodaya Yojana Fund were being released on time, and there was absolutely no constraint of funds in their implementation. The targeted 42,377 anganwadi centres were functioning in the State, and there was full compliance of the apex court's directions.