Midday meals: Schools to get wells, borewells by June next

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Kimmane Ratnakar on Tuesday told the Legislative Council that about 40,000 government primary and high schools will be provided with clean drinking water source by the next academic year.

During a discussion on shortcomings in the midday meals, in the wake of the recent Bihar tragedy, the minister said every school in the State will be provided with either an open well or a borewell before June 2014. Ratnakar said he has directed officials to identify the schools which do not have their own source of water.

Leader of the Opposition D V Sadananda Gowda, Dr A H Shivayogi Swamy, Arun Shahpur and Ganesh Karnik (all BJP) and JD(S) members expressed concern over the quality of food and drinking water and hygiene at schools.

Shahpur said that there are no proper kitchens in schools. The quality of food is poor and is stored in unhygienic conditions.
Substandard grains

On concerns over substandard food grains supplied for midday meals, the minister said officials of Karnataka State Food and Civil Supplies Corporation which gets food grains from Food Corporation of India, and headmasters of schools have been instructed not to accept food grains if found to be substandard.

To a suggestion by C H Vijayshankar (BJP) to rope in more NGOs and corporate houses to strengthen the scheme, Ratnakar said he would personally approach the corporates with a request to adopt schools.

Earlier, Sadananda Gowda said that it is imperative for the government to consider the pathetic conditions in which the midday meal was being prepared across the schools in the State.

He cited instances of food being served right beside a stormwater drain in one school and, under a tree in another.

He asked the government to increase the salary of the cooks to at least Rs 5,000 from
the existing Rs 1,100.

To the demand by Shahpur, Marithibbe Gowda and Puttanna to de-link teachers from midday meals, the minister said that he too is in favour of it. He said he will visit Tamil Nadu, and study its model and implement it here.

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