Now, healthier, less oily mid-day meals

Now, healthier, less oily mid-day meals


The government on Thursday revised the national mid-day meal programme to provide more nutritional support to the schoolchildren. The revision would cost the Union government Rs 10,140.33 crore and the state or Union Territory governments Rs 4,280.79 crore for the balance period of the 11th Five Year Plan.

The revised mid-day meal programme was approved by the Union Cabinet in a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.  “The revised norms will facilitate the implementing agency to serve good-quality mid-day meals to the children in prescribed quantity. This will help children fight classroom hunger, concentrate better on classroom activities, break social barriers and foster social harmony besides providing nutritional support,” said the Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni. Soni was briefing the media persons after the Cabinet’s meeting.

The government decided to increase the quantity of pulses for each child’s mid-day meal from 25 to 30 gram, vegetables from 65 to 75 gram and to decrease the quantity of oil and fat from 10 to 7.5 gram. The cooking cost — excluding labour and administrative charges — has been revised to Rs 2.50 for primary and Rs 3.75 for upper primary children with effect from December 1 next.This will be further revised by 7.5 per cent first on April 1 next year and again after another year.

The Centre will bear the three-fourth of the cooking cost for all the States except those in the northeastern region. The Union government will bear 90 per cent of the cooking cost for the northeastern states.

The revised programme also has a separate provision for payment of honorarium of Rs 1,000 per month to each cook-cum-helper. It also prescribed norms for engaging cook-cum-helpers in the schools.

According to the revised programme, one cook-cum-helper can be engaged in a school having up to 25 students; two cooks-cum-helper can be engaged in a school having 26 to 100 students; and one additional cook-cum-helper for every addition of up to 100 students.

The cost of construction of a kitchen-cum-store will be determined on the basis of State Schedule of Rates and the plinth area norm laid down by the Department of School Education and Literacy on the basis of number of children studying in the school.

Cost-sharing

The expenditure towards the honorarium of cooks-cum-helpers and construction of kitchen-cum-store will be shared between the Centre and the States and Union Territories.

As per the revised programme, the payment of cost of food grains to the Food Corporation of India would be made at the district level. The transportation assistance in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand and eight northeastern states has been made on par with the public distribution system rates prevalent in the states.

The minister said the expected number of children to be covered under the mid-day meal scheme during 2009-10 are 8.41 crore for primary and 3.36 crore for upper primary per school day.

On an average, 8.33 crore children of primary and 2.86 crore children of upper primary classes (total 11.19 crore children) were covered under the scheme during 2008-2009 by spending Rs 6687.99 crore and utilizing 20.23 lakh metric-tonnes of food grain, she added.

Cotton seeds are essential again

The Union government on Thursday re-included cotton seeds in the list of essential commodities.

A meeting of the Union Cabinet approved re-recognizing cotton seeds as an essential commodity for a period of six months by amending the Schedule to the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, or till the Seed Bill is passed by Parliament, whichever is earlier, reports DHNS from New Delhi. Cotton seed was removed from the list of essential commodities, when the Act was amended in 2007.


 

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