Depriving Children of Mid Day Meals


Depriving Poor Children of Mid Day Meals 

     THE MID-DAY meal scheme, which provides much-needed nutrition to lakhs of children all over the country, faces an acute crisis.  12 crore children in 9.5 lakh schools have mid-day meals.  

     The Department of Food and Public Distribution, headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, has told the HRD ministry that from now on wheat and rice for the scheme will cost almost double.   Also, it would not be possible to provide food grains for any future expansion of the scheme, the ministry was told.              

Only last Thursday the Cabinet approved the proposal to expand the mid-day meal scheme to the upper primary level in schools.

      The HRD ministry will now have to buy grains at what is called the ‘economic rate’ which is about Rs 12,000 per metric tonne, compared to Rs 5,650 per metric tonne. 

     PS: Children will be penalised for Bad Governance.

Do You know that

: In the last three years, Rs 31,585.98 crore worth of wheat and rice meant for the poorest of the poor was siphoned off from the public distribution system. Last year alone, Rs 11,336.98 crore worth of food grain that the government is supposed to distribute to the needy at subsidised prices found its way into the market illegally.

Stealing Food from the Poor


 Every year, India’s poor are cheated out of 53.3% of wheat and 39% of rice meant for them. The biggest diversion takes place in the case of wheat — the grain that the UPA government has controversially spent thousands of crores purchasing at steep prices from the international market in a bid to maintain buffer stocks. And it disappears most from states where the staple diet is rice. 

     While the Food Corporation of India can be credited with at least trying to straighten its vigilance wing and punishing several officials for the loss and diversion, the same cannot be said of the states. Many states do not even have a vigilance set-up to catch the culprits.

     Vigilance committees have not been constituted in Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, MP, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, Punjab, Tripura, Uttarakhand, UP, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Daman & Diu. 

     New Delhi: In the last three years, Rs 31,585.98 crore worth of wheat and rice meant for the poorest of the poor was siphoned off from the public distribution system. Last year alone, Rs 11,336.98 crore worth of food grain that the government is supposed to distribute to the needy at subsidised prices found its way into the market illegally.   

     Every year, India’s poor are cheated out of 53.3% of wheat and 39% of rice meant for them. With the exception of 11 states and Union Territories, there is large-scale diversion of PDS grain across India. And, these 11 states and UTs seem to be faring better only because the others are so far ahead in the dirty business.    In the case of wheat, except for 12 states, there’s massive pilferage of the grain all over the country. The situation is a tad better for rice, with 16 states having little or no diversion.

     Exceptions apart, the poor in India simply can’t trust the government to deliver them food supplies. The malaise cuts across party lines and categories like progressive, rich states and the poor less developed ones.   

     The North-East is in a class of its own. Of the eight states here, not a single grain of wheat supplied to six — Sikkim, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Assam — reaches the targeted poor. Arunachal Pradesh can claim to be a little less corrupt as 96.2% of its PDS wheat gets diverted. Manipur takes the cake as 97.7% of its rice allocation is also siphoned off with Nagaland following close behind at 88.6% of rice being diverted.    If political and policing troubles in the North-East can be blamed for such daylight robbery, other states have no alibi.

     In terms of loss to the exchequer, Uttar Pradesh fares the worst, followed by Left-ruled West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh.

   In 2006-07, Rs 3,289.71 crore worth of rice and wheat was stolen in UP. The corresponding figure in West Bengal was Rs 1,913.76 crore and in MP, Rs 1,038.69 crore. While the percentage of diversion may be lower than the North-East, the sheer volume of rice and wheat distributed in these states helps black-marketeers make a killing.

TOI reoprt