NEW DELHI

Rajasthan plans to involve trusts in mid-day meal scheme

JAIPUR, MARCH 17. The Rajasthan Government's Devasthan Department has chalked out an ambitious plan for distribution of mid-day meals to students up to the primary classes in association with the charitable trusts registered with it. The department has sought technical assistance of the Karnataka-based Akshay Patra Foundation for launching a pilot project for the purpose in a few districts of the State. The Secretary of the Devasthan, Ashok Shekhar, announcing this at a workshop organised in Jawahar Kala Kendra here on Tuesday, said a separate meeting of 200 selected trusts engaged in religious and philanthropic activities would be organised next month to finalise modalities for the work proposed to be started from the academic session beginning in July. The trusts will in turn solicit funds from their regular donors. Mr. Shekhar pointed out that about half of the 93.53-lakh children studying in first to fifth standards in 74,118 schools across the State were malnourished.

Children will be given chapatti, dal and mixed vegetables under the pilot project. While the Central Government will provide 100 grams of wheat for each student, the State Government will contribute Rs. 1.50 per student. The trusts will bear the rest of the cost amounting to Re. 1 per student through their resources. The Commissioner, Panchayati Raj, O.P. Saini, said the State Government had started providing cooked meals under the mid-day meal scheme from July 2002 and was now distributing ghooghri, made of wheat, for three days in a week and dal, chapatti and vegetables on the rest of the days. He said the State Government was presently considering providing full meal on five days and porridge on one day in the schools.

The Devasthan Commissioner, Fateh Krishna Kalla, said each trust would initially be given the responsibility to distribute mid-day meals to 1,000 children and the number would be increased gradually. R. Govinda Das, representative of Akshay Patra Foundation, said the pilot project in Jaipur district had already started with the distribution of afternoon meals in a school in Sanganer in November 2004 and was currently in operation in 41 schools, benefiting as many as 7,000 children. He said the Foundation would provide meals to 50,000 students in the first phase of the project and 1-lakh students in the second phase.

Representatives of Hanuman Seva Samiti, Salasar; Emmanuel Mission, Kota; Ramdham Trust, Pushkar; Seth G.L. Bihani Education Trust, Sriganganagar; Phalodiwala Temple Turst, Khairabad (Kota); Kaila Devi Trust, Karauli; and Lord Ganesha Temple Trust, Moti Dungari (Jaipur) participated in the workshop.

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