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HW Exclusive: 1200 quintals of food grains wasted meant for mid-day meals

Malnutrition is a prominent issue in our country. 38% of children under the age of 5 are stunted that is they are too short for their age. 36% are underweight and around 21% of them are wasted that is.. these kids are too thin for their height, which is a clear sign of acute under-nutrition. According to the Central government, the Union Ministries of Women and Child Development as well the Food and Public Distribution have mandated the distribution of fortified wheat flour, rice, oil and double fortified salt in their respective schemes that include Integrated Child Development Services and Mid-Day Meal scheme. But is it really getting implemented?

Almost every day we hear news about how children from several states getting ill and hospitalised after consuming food. And the situation is everywhere. Even at government schools, we hear incidents of how children are getting sick after consuming mid-day meals. A scheme which is programmed by the government of India was actually designed to better the nutritional standards of the school children nationwide.

HW News takes you to Jharkhand’s Ranchi, where the state is reeling under growing poverty, malnutrition and starvation. More than a 1000 quintal of food grains were found rotten in a warehouse at Ranchi. Out of these rotten grains, 1200 quintals which are meant to send to different schools for mid-day meals were also kept with the rotten ones. 1200 quintals of food grain that is around 1 lakh 20,000 kilograms of food that got wasted. Look, how these cereals and the food grains that were supposed to be sent for children’s meal at schools are all spoilt. These food grains were stocked inside this warehouse and according to our HW New team, this warehouse was literally stinking because of all these rotten grains.

Speaking to HW News, the manager of the godown said that the roof was damaged and that led to the leakage of rainwater during monsoon. The manager had also said that the previously rejected stock was also kept with the fresh food grains, that further damaged the fresh stock too. See, such negligency from our authorities. Now, this warehouse not provide grains to different schools but also provide food for the below poverty line through monthly ration. Now, let us tell you what else was kept at the warehouse. 1009 quintals of Dal, 325 quintals of lentils, 5000 quintals of salt, and 1600 quintals of sugar and that is a lot of food grains and all these were kept inside this warehouse which later supposed to be sent to different schools.

This is a serious issue for the food and supplies minister of the state and its department. And when asked about the negligency of the wasted food, the state’s Food and supplies minister Saryu Rai said that despite many letters to the education department, the 1,009 quintals of cereals meant for distribution for mid-day meals that were not collected and also the letters went unresponded the education department. However, the minister added that erring officials would not be spared, and stringent action will be taken against the guilty.

The Union Budget 2019-2020 saw progress on the issue of food fortification. Under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme on Fortification of Rice and its Distribution under Public Distribution System 2019-2020, a total Rs 42.65 crore has been budgeted. This will be part of Rs 192,240.39 crore allocated to the department of food and public distribution, an increase from the Rs 174,159.10 crore budgeted in 2018-19. And that’s a huge amount of money that is being allocated to the food department. The distribution will also target around 11.8 crore of children through the mid-day meal as well.

Midday meal scheme which is one of the largest of its kind in the world was launched as Centrally Sponsored Scheme on 15th Aug of 1995. The scheme is so well planned for our children’s health.. that it also focuses on the nutritional guidelines for the minimum amount of food and calorie content per child per day each of the students is entitled to receive a certain amount provided for in the school health programme of the National Rural Health Mission. And that is such a wonderful way of enhancing and improving nutritional levels among the growing children of our country. Prime minister Narendra Modi led government had also at several occasions spoke about their gov’s initiative in the betterment of the quality of food providing our growing children.

Now, meanwhile, the Opposition has found an opportunity to grill the government. Congress spokesperson Alok Dubey accused the BJP-led state government of neglecting the interest of beneficiaries who depend on Public Distribution System for their monthly ration. The advisor to the Supreme Court on Right to Food had alleged that the failure of the Public Distribution System has once again been exposed. So, this is not the first that this state has failed miserably to deliver nutritional food at schools. A school in Chatra district which is just 140 km away from Ranchi, almost more than a dozen students were ill and were hospitalised after consuming rotten food. According to the officials of HRD ministry more than 900 children have fallen after eating mid-day meals in the last 3 years across our country and in the current year more 930 such cases were reported.

 


Prime minister Modi says in its speech that just as a strong foundation is required for the construction of a strong building, it is important that the kids of our country must well-nourished for a strong and New India.. But sadly such a huge level of negligence by the authorities often passes off without any punitive actions. #MidDaymeals #Jharkhand #NarendraModi

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