Odisha CM’s ‘Mid-day Meal Lunch’ Directive To Ministers A Political Gimmick – Opposition

Bhubaneswar: With chief minister Naveen Patnaik issuing directives to have lunch in schools and orphanages while making surprise visits, the ministers have drawn up a comprehensive action plan to implement the initiative.

Following the direction, ministers and officials reportedly made surprise visits to various Aahar centres to check the food quality. According to sources, Revenue and Disaster Management minister, Sudam Marndi today visited an Aahar centre and two schools in Banki area of Cuttack and inspected the food quality. Similarly, the district collector inspected food quality at an Aahar centre in Malkangiri.

Recently, worms were found in the soybean curry served to children in mid-day meal in Jankharai Chasakhanda Nodal UP School in Remuna block. A few days back BJD MLA Manohar Randhari had also shared a video on social media showing how only rice was served to children in the mid-day meal.

Moreover, there are frequent reports of embezzlement of mid-day meal funds. The official data reveal that Rs 4.93 and 100 gm rice is given per meal per student in primary school while it is Rs 7.36 and 150 gram rice per student in upper primary schools.

Jagannath Mahakud, headmaster of Dabuguda UP School in Lamataput block openly admitted that they are forced to sacrifice the quality of the food due to fund constraint.

“Worms are found in soybean curry served to us. Once we dumped the food after finding the worms while we unknowingly had the food. Recently, worms were again found in the food,” said Manak Kumar Barik, a student.

While School and Mass Education minister Samir Ranjan Dash claimed that the initiatives have been taken to monitor proper implementation of the programmes, opposition has alleged that it just a political gimmick.

Golak Mohapatra, BJP spokesperson said, “Earlier the ministers and MLAs were allotted districts and asked to stay there. But the directive was not implemented. These directives are also just eyewash and they will not be implemented.”

Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati also brought similar allegations. “Sub-standard food is being served to children. The minister, MLAs and secretaries will go and inspect, but action will be zero. It is an effort to deceive public,” said Tara.

On the other hand, Samir Dash said, “The initiative has been launched to improve the situation. It will be implemented more effectively. Stress will be laid on serving quality food to children.”