NGOs to be involved in implementing midday meal scheme

Bangalore Oct. 10. The Special Adviser to the State Government on the Akshara Dasoha scheme, L. Revannasiddaiah, today said that reputable NGOs would be involved in the scheme for its effective implementation and to overcome problems which were observed in the initial stages. Hygiene in the preparation of food would be given priority.

He told presspersons here that he had visited six districts, including Mandya, Mysore, Kodagu and Bangalore Rural and Urban, to get a feedback and supervise the programme. He was studying the details of the programme already implemented in other states such as Tamil Nadu and would make recommendations to the Government.

Though the Tamil Nadu programme was the best as it was providing nutritious food, including eggs, and distributing food to schoolchildren even on holidays, it was not possible to copy it in the State as of now. He said 50 per cent of the schools would be provided with kitchens in the first year and the rest next year by the zilla panchayats concerned. The gram panchayats would have to provide drinking water, wherever possible.

Mr. Revannasiddaiah, who successfully implemented Vanita Sahayavani and Makkala Sahayavani when he was the Commissioner of Police in Bangalore to make the police people-friendly, said Akshara Dasoha would be stabilised at the present level before fulfilling the desire of the Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, to extend it up to the seventh standard. He said that schools with smaller number of students had been provided with two cooks and bigger schools with four cooks on part-time basis. They worked for four hours and teachers did not have to cook food in most of the 38,470 kitchens set up throughout out the State.

Most of the schools had been provided with utensils and transport facility. Complaints of misuse or shortage of rice and some accounting discrepancies were bound to be there when such a programme was implemented on large scale. However, the complaints were not many. The former DGP said that that the attendance rate had improved by an average of three per cent. The increase in attendance varied from three per cent to 15 per cent. Out of 46,25,501 eligible children in 42,363 schools, 43,80,962 had been covered under the programme. The NGOs had covered 1,25,000 students in about 800 schools.