Midday meals stopped in Punjab, lack of funds

Patiala: Government schools in Punjab have reportedly not received any money for midday meals for the last several months prompting some of them to stop serving food to children under the scheme.

In a few schools, teachers have been spending from their own pockets or buying rations on credit to feed the children. The education department has attributed the delay in payment to non-release of funds by the finance department.

Jagjit Singh Nouhra, a teacher in a Patiala district schools and convener of the Sikhiya Vikas Manch, today alleged that the government has diverted the funds meant for the midday meal scheme towards some other activity. He claimed that over Rs 50 crore meant for the scheme was knowingly diverted by the present SAD-BJP government towards its media campaign before the onset of elections in the state.

"The Badal government has been snatching food from children`s mouth and spending money on its image building," Nouhra said.

Teachers say they are buying food because the people who send their children to school are very poor. In Patiala district alone, the bills have piled up to Rs 2.5 crore. "Schools were assured quick reimbursement. Unable to spend from their pockets, some have stopped giving meals," said a teacher on condition of anonymity.

The schools in Bhadson block of Nabha have not been paid for three months.
The panchayats have passed a resolution to stop the midday meal scheme. A school in Rotipura village in the same block has been picking up rations on credit. Schools in Samana and Patiala and Sanaur blocks are in a similar condition.

The general manager of Sarva Shikshya Abhiyan Prabh, Sharan Singh refused to give any details about the matter and said that he was not authorised to speak to the media.