Tamil Nadu

Flexi-pricing for noon-meal eggs

Govt. believes procurement policy overhaul will refurbish its image

The searches conducted by the Income Tax Department in early July against a major supplier of eggs have forced the State government to carry out a major overhaul of the system of procurement of about 45 lakh eggs per day for children covered under the mid-day meal programme.

Doing away with the practice of placing orders for the full year, the government has decided to procure eggs once in six months. While abandoning the earlier system of a common price for the supply of eggs all over Tamil Nadu, the authorities, by dividing the State into six zones, have opened the doors for differential pricing. For 2017-18, the price of an egg was fixed at ₹4.34 and the government spent nearly ₹403 crore against the budgetary allocation of about ₹ 425 crore.

More importantly, only poultry farmers can now take part in the tender process. A farmer or a consortium or an association of farmers can participate in the process for a maximum of three zones. Each participant should have had an annual turnover of ₹10 crore in the last three years and should have the capacity to produce a minimum of 60% of the required quantity in a given zone. A certificate from the Joint Directors of Animal Husbandry would be required with regard to the participants’ claims, a senior official of the Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme (SW&NMP) Department said.

The order changing the rules of the game was issued by the department on Monday. On Tuesday, the Directorate of Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (Nutritious Meal Programme) floated the bids. The overall value of the tenders for all the six zones is ₹215 crore. The change in the norms has compelled the authorities to invite tenders once again. Under the earlier system of procurement, on two occasions in last two months, the bids were opened and were subsequently cancelled.

Bids scrutiny in Chennai

About 54 lakh children and students are covered under the egg supply scheme. While students from Class I to Class X are given five eggs a week, children in the age group of 2-5 years get three eggs a week. Children in the age group of one to two years are given one egg a week.

There are about 97,000 noon-meal centres at schools, which function for 220 days. And then there are anganwadi centres, which are open for 300 days.

Even though the proposed system envisages the supply of eggs zone-wise, the bids will be scrutinised by the Directorate in Chennai only.

The official explained that even though the department had no problem with the current supplier, both in terms of quality and quantity, an adverse perception had been created in some quarters about the system of procurement, compelling the changes.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 12:59:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/flexi-pricing-for-noon-meal-eggs/article24748062.ece

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