MDM workers salary hike on hold

MDM workers salary hike on hold

The Centre has put on hold a UPA-era proposal to increase the monthly remuneration of mid-day meal (MDM) cook-cum-helpers to Rs 2,000 from the current Rs 1,000, dashing hopes of 28 lakh workers engaged under the scheme.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) deferred a decision on the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry’s proposal at its meeting on July 9, even as various reviews of the scheme conducted in past took note of the “pitiable” remuneration, recommending that it should be increased.

In January, the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) approved increasing the remuneration to Rs 2,000 from the current Rs 1,000 in wake of the mid-day meal tragedy in Bihar in which over 20 children died after consuming contaminated food at a school in Chapra.

It also approved the HRD Ministry’s proposal to give remuneration to the MDM cook-cum-helpers for 12 months, instead of the current 10 months. The proposals have been put on hold by the CCEA.

 As many as 28 lakh cook-cum-helpers are extending their services under the scheme across the country for Rs 1,000 honorarium for 10 months.

The NDA government has not increased budgetary allocation for the mid-day meal scheme for the current fiscal, even as the flagship programme needed more funding for its effective implementation.

While presenting the Budget, Finance Ministry Arun Jaitley allocated Rs 13,215 crore for implementation of the programme for this fiscal, same amount earmarked by the previous government for the last fiscal.

“It’s not that there is a dearth of money. The erstwhile UPA government had earmarked Rs 90,000 crore to MDM for the twelfth five year plan period. Funds could have been allocated for raising remuneration of MDM cook-cum-helpers,” sources said.

With no increase in budgetary allocation for the MDM this fiscal, the HRD Ministry’s various other proposals for effective implementation of the scheme were put on hold.

The ministry wanted a revision in the norms for procurement of kitchen devices from Rs 5,000 per school to Rs 10,000-Rs 25,000 per school, based on enrolment slabs of students per school on sharing basis between Centre and states.

The HRD Ministry also had plans to introduce solar cookers and fuel-efficient chulhas for cooking mid-day meal in 5,000 schools on a pilot basis.

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