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Bihar government didn’t take adverse reports seriously

These two premier bodies, appointed as monitoring institutes by the central government to evaluate implementation of mid day meal scheme in Bihar had highlighted poor quality of food, unhygienic conditions and almost no inspection by state
government officers.

The observations of these institutes, along with their recommendations to improve the pathetic system, were presented to the Programme Approval Board (PAB), the top body to monitor the scheme in the country. PAB discussed the report with senior officers of Bihar government at a meeting on 23 April 2013.

The PAB approved budget for 1.29 crore primary and upper primary students with instructions to improve the quality of food in the light of recommendations made by institutes. ‘Most schools served average quality food items in unhygienic condition. Food was cooked and kept in open and dirty ground,’ said the report of AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna. The institute surveyed four districts of Darbhanga, Saharsa, Sheohar and Sitamarhi from April to September, 2012.

The report said mid day meal programme was rarely inspected by the state, district or block-level officers. It said that block resource person visited respective schools once in a month only for data collection. ‘Since hardly any visit took place, no remarks were found in either visiting register or in mid day meal registers,’ said the report, a copy of which was also submitted to the education department of Bihar government.

The Faculty of Education of Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi was assigned the role of monitoring institute for the same period for five districts of Banka, Bhagalpur, Kaimur, Kishangang and Purnia. Both institutes reported meals were not regularly supplied in around 85 per cent surveyed schools due to delay in the supply of cooking cost and food grain.
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