Published: 14th January 2023
Mid-day meal scheme in West Bengal under fire: Inspection team sent to investigate implementation issues
The move was made over concerns about implementation issues and reports of unsanitary conditions, including the presence of lizards and cockroaches in meals
The mid-day meal scheme in West Bengal is being scrutinised by the central government, with a field inspection team from the Union Education Ministry set to arrive in the state to review its implementation, according to IANS.
The Union Ministry of Education has sent a communication to the state secretariat requesting cooperation from the district administration for the upcoming field inspection of the Mid-Day Meal scheme. The inspection team, composed of officers from the Ministry and nutritionists, will evaluate various aspects of the scheme's implementation, including who is benefitting, reimbursement for participating schools, infrastructure such as kitchen facilities, and the quality of the food provided to students.
The central field inspection team, in addition to meeting with implementation authorities, plans to speak with beneficiaries and their guardians. They will also assess the level of participation by teachers in the success of the scheme. The decision to send the team is likely a response to numerous complaints about unsanitary cooking methods, including the presence of lizards and cockroaches in meals, and reports of children becoming ill after consuming contaminated food.
Welcoming the decision to send the central team, BJP's national vice president and party Lok Sabha member, Dilip Ghosh said that there had been rampant corruption in the implementation of the mid-day meal scheme in the state. "Implementation of every central scheme in the state is tainted with corruption," he told IANS.
On the other hand, Trinamool Congress state vice-president Jaiprakash Majumdar claimed that sending such central review teams is actually a conspiracy to deprive West Bengal of legitimate central dues. "Do they want to deprive the school children in the state of their regular meal?" he questioned.
Mid-day meal is the second centrally sponsored scheme whose implementation in West Bengal has come under the scanner of the Union government after the Prime Minister Awas Yojana (PMAY). Allegations of corruption and misuse of the PMAY were reported in the state. On January 6th and 7th, teams from the central government arrived in the state to investigate the alleged irregularities. Two field inspection teams from the Union Ministry of Rural Development have already conducted an enquiry on this count in East Midnapore and Malda districts. Another five field inspection teams from the same Ministry are scheduled to visit the state to review the situation in 10 districts.