GUWAHATI: The State government’s decision to hand over the midday meal scheme to 15 NGOs in 17 districts has created a stir in the schools and questions are being raised over the intentions behind it. The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) has accused the ruling BJP for the ensuing turmoil and alleged that the future of the midday meal workers is at stake.
Addressing the media at Rajiv Bhawan on Saturday, APCC general secretary Durga Das Boro said, “The food that was served to the children attending government schools on November 1 by the entrusted NGOs was unhygienic and sub-standard. Many children fell ill after consuming the food and most children discarded the watery food in the trash. Who gave the government the right to play with the lives of little children?”
Most of the children attending government schools belong to the rural families of Assam. They are invariably from Below Poverty Line (BPL) families. Both the parents go for work either on the farm or outside and comeback in the evening. The children are sent to school after light breakfast or empty stomach and the government took the responsibility upon themselves to provide these children with the minimum calories through the midday meal scheme. “There are 1.17 lakh cooks engaged in the midday meal scheme, who fear for their employment security now. I demand to know that the government took the step to fulfill whose selfish needs? Why are NGOs that are black-listed in other states of the country are given an opportunity in Assam? There should be an enquiry over the matter,” said Boro. The APCC general secretary demanded that under the circumstances, the government’s verdict to hand over the midday meal scheme to the NGOs is revoked and a concrete decision for the midday meal cooks are taken so that they do not remain fearful of their future. Also, for these cooks to be able to sustain a decent livelihood, Boro demanded that their remuneration is fixed by the government.