Millennium Post

Food for thought: After Bihar, capital could be the next in grip of mid-day meal tragedy

The mid-day meal tragedy that has engulfed Bihar is waiting to unfold in the national capital, if immediate steps are not taken to ward off the danger. Twenty-two students have lost their lives in a Bihar school from food poisoning caused by consuming mid-day meal served at the school.
But the quality of food that is served under the mid-day meal scheme in the national capital is no better.

The Delhi government and civic bodies have allowed NGOs to continue supplying food for students, despite their having failed to meet the required standard of meal prescribed for students. Millennium Post investigations have revealed that 83 per cent samples picked up from Delhi government  schools and over 90 per cent samples picked up from civic-body run schools have failed the test that is conducted to check the quality of food being served to the children from poor families who mostly attend these schools.

In a report published on 11 March 2013, Millennium Post had revealed, that 'only 17 per cent of samples from govt schools meet prescribed standards of nutrition'. The report had also highlighted the extent to which the quality of mid-day meal is being compromised for over 1.5 lakh students in primary and upper primary schools run by Delhi government.
According to data available with mid-day meal cell of Delhi government only, 50 of 288 samples tested in 2012-13 at the Shriram Institute for Industrial Research passed the test, whereas 83 per cent failed to meet the prescribed nutritional standard. As per the prescribed nutritional content of a mid day meal serving, each student of upper primary level, (classes VI to VIII), must be given 20 gm of protein and 700 calorie of energy in one portion, while a student of primary standard (classes I to V) should get 12 gm protein and 450 gm calorie of energy per portion.

The percentage of failed samples had been 95 per cent in 2011-12 and 98 per cent in 2010-11. Similarly, the three municipal corporations sent 162 samples to the same laboratory for tests in 2012-13 out of which 149 (91 per cent) failed the test. In 2011-12 92.5 per cent of the samples had failed to meet the prescribed nutritional norms.
Millennium Post was again the first to reveal this in a report titled Over 90 % mid day meal samples fail quality test.

The issue was also raised by senior BJP leader Harshvardhan in Delhi Assembly in April, but the government is still to act in the case. The Programme Approval Board (PAB) of the central government had pulled up the Delhi government for supplying poor quality of food under the scheme in its meeting on 11 April and directed the city government to improve the quality of food.
Over 11.71 lakh students are being covered under the scheme in the current academic year by Delhi government, three municipal corporations, NDMC, and Delhi Cantonment Board but the government agencies are yet to ensure proper quality and quantity of food being served.
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