Chief Minister Karunanidhi introduces the fruit in noon meal scheme
Number of vegetarian students is less than a lakh
Total cost between Rs.1.25 crore and Rs.1.5 crore
CHENNAI: When Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi ordered introduction of three eggs a week in the nutritious noon meal programme, he did not anticipate a small problem — that of vegetarian students.
As many as 72 lakh students in the State consume egg three days a week. The number of vegetarian students, who did not eat eggs, was less than a lakh.
When this was brought to Mr. Karunanidhi’s notice, he considered various ideas placed before him to provide a substitute for the egg. And, he came up with the idea that a banana could be given in place of the egg.
The officials worked out the details: the banana should be 100 grams and should be given on the days that other children are given eggs. The total cost — depending on seasonal variations — would be between Rs.1.25 crore and Rs.1.5 crore.
The Chief Minister inaugurated the introduction of the banana in the nutritious noon meal scheme on Tuesday, the birth anniversary of Congress leader and former Chief Minister Kamaraj, at the Chennai Corporation school on Model High School Road, Thousand Lights.
Mr. Karunanidhi said when the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government was in power the last time, it had announced that it would observe Kamaraj’s birthday in a fitting manner.
After it came to power this time, it enacted a law declaring the late leader’s birthday Education Development Day. “An announcement can be ignored, not a law,” he said, explaining the rationale behind the legislation.
Recalling the Assembly election campaign ahead of the 1989 polls, Local Administration Minister M.K. Stalin said a malicious campaign was launched by the Opposition that if the DMK came to power, it would not continue with the noon meal programme. History had proved otherwise, he said, adding that it was the DMK that had made many additions and improved the scheme.