TAMIL NADU

Mid-day meal scheme in A.P. to stay

HYDERABAD JAN. 25. That the recently launched mid-day meal scheme is going to be a permanent programme for schoolchildren has been indicated by the Andhra Pradesh Government in the performance budget proposals for the year 2003-04.

According to the projections released by the Minister for Primary Education, M. Venkateswara Rao, here today, the scheme had been allocated Rs. 250 crores for next year against Rs. 68 crores for the current year.

With fresh enrolment going on as a drive, the coverage would go up from the current level of nearly 75 lakh children in over 68,000 schools which included not only those of local bodies but also the private/aided ones.

The Minister said despite several practical difficulties, they were going ahead with its total implementation with expanded coverage with a view to giving focus to education as an important means to improve HRD.

The Minister for Civil Supplies, C. Mutyam Reddy, while releasing his department's budget projections at a different press conference later, also touched upon the scheme, saying that they too, would try to ensure quality food items by supplying rice, dal, tamarind etc through the `Gruha Mithra' scheme. In yet another such paper relating to Panchayat Raj, the Minister concerned, N. Janardhan Reddy, spoke of "rice credit'' scheme under which rice would be given to poor families in the rural areas on credit by the department if their monthly requirement was more than the PDS quota and if they purchased the same from open market. Rice would be released to them on credit at 12 per cent interest and supplied at Rs. 6.40 a kg to the confederation of self-help groups which, in turn, would deliver the commodity to the beneficiaries at Rs. 7.50 a kg adding transport charges.