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During lockdown, U'khand paid Rs 38 cr to students under midday meal scheme

Dehradun: In the times when the Covid 19 lockdown derailed the mid-day meal scheme across the country, Uttarakhand state school education department achieved an astonishing milestone of transferring over Rs 19.9 crore through the Direct Bank Transfer (DBT) and over Rs 19 crore payments to over 6 lakhs primary and secondary classes students under the mid-meal scheme in past five months.

According to the education department's latest data, over 6 lakh students are synced with the mid-day meal scheme in all the 13 districts and the lockdown had forced the state government to rework the strategy to reach out students.

State secretary, school education, Dr R Meenakshi Sundram, said, "Our department adopted both the option of cash payment and DBT for the mid-day meal procurement for the students by their parents during the lockdown. The random survey of the district level teams has revealed brilliant results at the micro-level across the 13 districts."

In Uttarakhand, under the DBT over Rs 19.9 crore was disbursed to over 1.55 lakh students and cash payment of over Rs 19.74 crore to over 15 lakh (cumulative total of five months) students' parents was done from March onward till July-end as per the August report.

The mid-day meal is a great-binding factor in rural education landscape as it reins in the government school dropout rates. During the Covid-19 pandemic, all states face the challenge of keeping the school drop rate in the current academic year.

"The DBT cash payment to parents would play an important role in reducing the school dropout rate in rural pockets across the state," said Dr Sundaram.

As per the central government norms, primary class students gets Rs 114.31 and secondary class students get Rs 171.35 and in additional 2.3 kg rice for 23 days every month. The state has over 16,000 schools and the mid day meal scheme caters to over 6 lakh students studying till class eight.

Dr Mukul Kumar Sati, additional state project director, school education, said that all arrangements have been made for providing the cash and DBT to all students in Uttarakhand.

"The real and full potential of the central government's direct bank transfer has been utilized during the lockdown by the state education department. The students and their parents who are unbanked are getting cash payment," said Dr Sati.

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