Tamil Nadu

August deadline for noon meal recruitment

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State government issues directive to District Collectors who have been made appointing authority

The State government has directed District Collectors to complete the recruitment of about 28,500 staff members for nutritious meal and children development programmes across the State by the middle of August.

Pointing out that the Collectors have been made the appointing authority, a senior official in Chennai says the process of recruitment varies from district to district. The district-wise reports are expected only after the second week of August.

While districts such as Virudhunagar and Madurai have completed the recruitment, some others, including Tiruvannamalai and Vellore, are contemplating holding interviews soon.

The government’s decision to raise the age ceiling for differently-abled from 40 to 43 years has made several districts reschedule their plans for interview.

Cuddalore and Villupuram had completed their recruitment process and the government order made the authorities in the two districts draw up fresh dates for the last date of submission of applications and interview. In Pudukkottai, which witnessed a by-election in June, the process is yet to start, while in Coimbatore litigation has put it in abeyance.

The recruitment of thousands of employees is being done under two programmes — Puratchi Thalaivar MGR Nutritious Meal Programme (PTMGRNMP) and the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). As many as 16,793 workers are to be recruited under the first programme and 11,803 for the second. The break-up of the staff is: 4,373 nutritious meal organisers; 5,717 noon meal cooks; 6,703 noon meal helpers; 4,689 anganwadi workers; 1,168 mini-anganwadi workers and 5,946 anganwadi assistants.

Wide coverage

The significance of the two programmes can be gauged by their coverage. Nearly five million school students up to higher secondary are beneficiaries of the PTMGRNMP, of which 4.5 million are rural students. In the case of the ICDS, over 1.1 million children in the age group of two to five years receive nutritious meal. It is for these children and school students that the thousands of persons being recruited will serve.

Though Chief Minister Jayalailtha made an announcement regarding the recruitment in December, it was only in recent months that the momentum picked up. But, what has made the recruitment drive hit headlines is the way some Collectors have chosen to adopt.

To cite an example, in districts such as Virudhunagar, Vellore and Tiruvannamalai, the centralised system of submission of applications and holding interviews at the respective Collectorates has been devised instead of the conventional practice of block-level appointment. In Ariyalur and Perambalur — districts known to be most backward — the lists of selected candidates have been published on the websites of the district administration.

What strikes one is that even though only modest wages are paid for the posts for which recruitment is being made [A nutritious meal organiser gets a minimum of Rs. 4,840 per month], the ratio of the number of applicants to the number of posts available is 10:1, as evident in Nagapattinam, Tiruvannamalai and Vellore. For about 1,000 posts in Virudhunagar, more than 17,000 had applied.

Controversies

The process is not without controversies. Complaints of irregularities have also been reported.

In Karur, there have been widespread allegations that political interference and collection of money from aspirants for the posts have been doing the rounds. Many aspirants and applicants The Hindu spoke to claimed that up to Rs. 3 lakh had been paid to functionaries of the ruling party.

However, the district administration has said it has not received complaints.

Political interference

In Nagapattinam, contrary to the government norms for filling vacancies, all applicants — including caste Hindu applicants for a reserved vacancy — were called for the interview.

This reduced the interviews to a sham, says a source, who had received information on the total number of vacancies for a specific block under RTI.

The filling of vacancies is riddled with political interference right from the level of panchayat union level to district. However, an official refused to respond to this allegation.

(With inputs from L. Srikrishna in Madurai, V.S. Palaniappan in Coimbatore, P.V. V. Srividya in Nagapattinam, Serena Josephine in Vellore, A.D. Balasubramaniyan in Tiruvannamalai, L. Renganathan in Karur and T. Ramakrishnan in Chennai).

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 1:39:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/august-deadline-for-noon-meal-recruitment/article3658773.ece

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