The midday meal budget has been reduced from a staggering Rs 1,296.5 crore to a mere Rs 132 crore this year, adversely affecting certain states. Telangana and Andra Pradesh had the worst hit, which have the highest number of students depending on this scheme.
The quality of rice, vegetables and protein might go down drastically for especially these areas where a massive 55 lakh or more students depend on this scheme. This will prove to be one of the worst case scenarios of 2015 as predicted by nutritionist and educationalist.
The state government has not been able to supplement the scheme with added funds being cash trapped themselves while the hapless multitudes of school going children have to bear the grunt. Telangana governmentwhich had started providing fine quality rice including Basmati would revise this programme as State funds are insufficient in the face of a meagre Union Government grant.
As calculated the grant allocated per student will go down from Rs 3.59 paisa for primary classes and Rs 5.38 paisa for upper primary classes. The scheme covers students of class I to IX in 77,631 schools in the two states. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, unlike other states in the country have been till now providing midday meals to students of classes IX and X.
In India where poverty plays an over arching role determining the provision of necessities the reduction in the midday meal budget from further provide a big blow to the literacy programme in these states. The allocation of funds for 2015 has certainly undermined the primary objectives for starting the midday meal scheme in the first place where a student is provided meal for opting education instead of day labour.