Mid-Day Meal scheme out, PM-POSHAN in. But the budget remains the same?

When launched, it was claimed that the PM-POSHAN scheme is a lot more than just one midday meal. Then why hasn't it been allotted a larger budget?
Pic: Edexlive
Pic: Edexlive

After over two decades of providing one nutritional meal to students of government and government-aided schools, the Mid-Day Meal Scheme was expanded to PM-POSHAN (POshan SHAkti Nirman) scheme last year. At the Union Budget 2022, the funds allotted for this new scheme are Rs 10,233.75 crore. But did you know that this is the same amount that the Mid-Day Meal Scheme had received as the revised budget in 2021?

The PM-POSHAN came with multiple additional benefits and was touted to be much more than just a midday meal. It was even said to be better funded. But it appears that the budget allocation is exactly the same as it was for the Mid Day Meal Scheme.

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The overreaching PM-POSHAN scheme was launched on September 29, 2021, for the next five years (from 2021-22 to 2025-26) with an outlay of Rs 1.31 lakh crore, within this, Rs 54,061.73 crore is the Central Government’s share, while Rs 31,733.17 crore is the share of the state. It was said that the Centre would also bear an additional cost of Rs 45,000 crore for food grains. The intention was to curb "the menace of malnutrition", as the PM mentioned in his tweet. Apart from benefitting over 118 million students from Classes I to VIII in 1.1 million schools, the centrally-sponsored scheme also promised to benefit around 2.4 million students in Balvatikas (pre-primary sections).

Apart from providing nutritious meals, PM-POSHAN also intends to monitor the nutritional levels of school children by appointing a nutritional expert for every school. They will monitor the BMI, haemoglobin and weight levels of the students. Furthermore, in districts where there are many cases of anaemia, special provisions would be made. Nutritional gardens, cooking competitions (to promote local cuisine), involving college and university students for monitoring purposes and innovative menus modelled around locally sourced ingredients — these were the other promises made under the scheme.

The involvement of Farmer Producer Organisations (FPO) and Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) was also mentioned along with mandatory social audits and structural changes to encourage transparency.

Will all these promises of the PM-POSHAN scheme be fulfilled in a budget that is the same as it was for the Mid-Day Meal scheme?

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