Midday meal cooks to get paid via e-transfer

In what could come as a significant relief to a large number of midday meal cooks-cum-helpers, Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has decided to make payment of their remuneration directly into their bank accounts.

The HRD Minister Smriti Irani has also initiated a move to get all these cooks-cum-helpers covered under Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Atal Pension Yojana.

She recently wrote a letter to all the chief ministers, urging them to ensure that every cook engaged under midday meal programme in their respective states get benefits of these three social security schemes announced by the Narendra Modi government.

The Ministry also held a two-day national level consultation in Meghalaya on June 1 and June 2 and discussed road map with the state governments for extending the benefits of the NDA government’s social security schemes to midday meal cooks, a senior official of the Meghalaya government told Deccan Herald.

At the meeting, states were also asked to ensure opening of bank accounts of all cooks-cum-helpers for e-transfer of their honorarium. 

Nearly 26 lakh cooks-cum-helpers are engaged in cooking and serving of midday meal for schoolchildren across the country under the centrally sponsored scheme. Majority of those engaged in the job are women, who come from weaker sections of the society and are very poor.

In most of the states including Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, these cooks-cum-helpers are paid a pittance, Rs 1000 per month as honorarium for 10 months. This, too, comes late from six months to one year. Delay in payment of honorarium has been one of the major grievances of the midday meal workers.

Except Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odissa and Punjab, a large number of cooks do not have bank  accounts and those who have accounts are paid through cheques.

The HRD Ministry’s decision to make payment of the honorarium directly into the accounts of the cooks-cum-helpers would come as a big relief. On many occasions, the cooks have accused school authorities of demanding bribe for releasing their honorarium.

A couple of months ago, a large number of cooks-cum-helpers from Bihar and UP staged a protest here in Delhi, demanding an increase in their honorarium from the current Rs 1000 and for direct payment to their account.

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