Mid-day meal: Officials become cautious in Udupi

After the mid-day meal tragedy in Bihar in which 23 children died because of food poisoning, the department of public instruction has become cautious and have taken measures to keep an close watch on the food being served.

The authorities have decided to take the services of district-level officials. The department of principal secretary has issued a circular to all the DDPIs to appoint thr district-level officers as mid-day meal nodal officers.

The nodal officers should visit the schools at least once in a month and look into the system in the school and submit a detailed report. If they notice any irregularities, then it should be brought to the notice of the higher authorities.

The officials should visit the schools assigned to them atleast once in a month. The officials should pay surprise visit to the schools. The report submitted by the officials will be sent to the government by the DDPI, said the circular. The nodal officers should furnish details on number of students, attendance, beneficiaries of mid-day meal scheme, process of cooking, water facility, and arrangement for drinking water facility in the school. They should also collect opinions from the School Development and Monitoring Committee (SCDC) members and parents. The circular has urged the officials to give priority to maintain cleanliness in and around the kitchen, where food is being prepared.

Over 90,000 students consume mid-day meal in Udupi district. District-level officers have been given the charge to monitor 106 government high schools and 75 aided high schools. There are over 800 primary schools in the district. It would be impossible to appoint district-level officers to monitor all these schools. Hence, the responsibility has been given to the Panchayat Development Officers. The PDOs will be the nodal officer for a minimum of four schools in each gram panchayat, said an official. Teachers said “Deputy commissioner, Zilla panchayat CEO and other district level officials will monitor the arrangements in the schools. This will help in the effective implementation of the mid-day meal scheme.”

BEO Ashok Kamath said “mid-day meal scheme is being implemented without any hassle in the district. We have not received any complaints on irregularities. We are more cautious after the Bihar tragedy.”

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