State rejects allowance instead of MDM

Bhubaneswar:Rejecting the Centre’s decision of providing “allowance” to school children for mid-day meal (MDM), Odisha government today asked opposition BJP not to politicise the National Food Security Act to be implemented in the state from November 1.

“Allowance to school children instead of MDM is not at all acceptable to the state. This will defeat the very purpose of the MDM for reduction of drop out rates. The Centre on September 30 has framed such a rule,” Odisha’s Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Sanjay Dasburma said.

Asking the Centre to reconsider its decision, Dasburma said the new MDM rules would create divide in schools.

The ‘Mid Day Meal Rules 2015’ notification of which was issued by the Centre on September 30, states that schools that fail to serve mid-day meal for reasons such as non- availability of food grains, cooking cost, fuel or absence of cook-cum-helper and others, will have to disburse quantity of food grains as per entitlement along with the cooking cost prevailing in the state to beneficiaries by 15th of the succeeding month. This, however, will not be applicable for kids who would refuse meal for their own reasons, it said.

Dasburma said this while reacting over the opposition BJP’s allegation that the state government was trying to take credit by hijacking centrally sponsored schemes like food security programme. The BJP also asked the Naveen Patnaik regime to refrain from such “unethical” practises.

Stating that the state government was committed to implement the NFSA in true spirit, Dasburma asked BJP not to politicise the matter. “As such, the NFSA came into force in 2013 during the UPA-II. Though NDA had promised to have its own food security policy, it failed to do so. Therefore, NDA government has no role for the NFSA,” Dasburma said.

Alleging that the Centre did not cooperate with the state in preparation of the beneficiaries list for the NFSA, the minister pointed out that they did not release the required NPR (national population register) data at appropriate time.

“The Centre released the NPR data only after the chief minister took up the matter with the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister,” Dasburma said, adding that the request made by him, chief secretary and department secretary for early release of NPR data was not heard earlier. The state government has prepared the beneficiary list comprising 3.26 crore people in a record time,” he said.

Expressing displeasure on the Centre’s silence over the provision of subsidised rice and what for the inmates of scheduled caste and schedule tribal hostels, Dasburma said while there are 4,88,555 students in dalit and tribal hostels, the Centre sanctioned cheap food grain for only 62,759 students.

“The state government has decided to provide subsidised foodgrain for 4,25,760 students at its own expenses,” the minister said asking the BJP leaders to mount pressure on the Centre to make provision of cheap food grain for the inmates of dalit and tribal hostels in the state.

The minister claimed that the state government was careful on proper implementation of the NFSA in Odisha.