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Video: In Chhattisgarh School, Mid-Day Meal Is Just Rice And Turmeric

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Officials at the school said they have not got any vegetables for nearly a week.

Raipur:

Refusing to be outdone by reports of children being served chapatis and salt in their mid-day meals in other states, a school in Chhattisgarh has been giving its students plain rice with only some turmeric added to it. Vegetables are missing, as are pulses on several occasions, which would have enabled the young children to at least have some khichdi.

The state’s education department has a prescribed menu for mid-day meals, promising a variety of nutritious food. The reality at the school and some other institutions reveals, however, that the menu remains only on paper.

The malnutrition rate in Chhattisgarh stood at 17.76% in 2022.

The Bijakura Primary School in Bijakura village, Patel Para, Balrampur, serves mid-day meals to 43 students and officials admitted that they have not been serving any vegetables for nearly a week. The meals have consisted of rice and dal, or just turmeric rice.

The in-charge head teacher at the school attributed the lack of vegetables to non-delivery by the mid-day meal suppliers, who, in turn, claim that supplies have stopped because they have not been paid their dues. Amid, the blame game, it’s the children who are being deprived of the balanced diet mandated by the government.

“Vegetables have not been provided by the suppliers, which is why we can’t serve them,” the head teacher said.

The District Education Officer, Devendra Nath Mishra, assured immediate investigation and action. “This matter has come to my notice through you. I will investigate it today itself and action will be taken as per the rules,” Mr Mishra told NTV

Local officials and staff members of the school also said the lack of supplies is to blame.

Ramprasad Ram, the Ward Panch, explained, “The group responsible for providing vegetables is negligent, which is why we are unable to serve proper food to children.”

Cook Sukhiya Devi added, “If we don’t receive vegetables, we can’t serve them to children. Sometimes we have dal rice, sometimes only rice. When we ask for vegetables, the suppliers say they aren’t available.”

Anganwadis Hit Too

The issue at Bijakura Primary School is part of a broader problem in Chhattisgarh’s nutritional programs. The state government distributes ready-to-eat nutritious food to combat malnutrition among children and pregnant women, but supply chain disruptions have halted deliveries to a whopping 52,474 anganwadi centres in the state for over a week. Apart from their other roles, these centres provide supplementary nutrition to children and pregnant children.

An inspection by NDTV confirmed that the supply of nutritious food for July, expected to arrive in June, is yet to be delivered in many anganwadi centres, including in the capital, Raipur.

Premlata, an assistant at the Vinoba Bhavenagar Anganwadi Centre in Raipur confirmed the delay, stating, “We have not received the nutrition food for July yet, and this is causing concern among parents and guardians.”

Similar reports came from the Utkal Basti Anganwadi in the city as well, but the issue extends beyond Raipur.

Anganwadi Centres in other regions, including Pendra in the Gaurela-Pendra-Marwahi district, are also experiencing supply disruptions.

Sangeeta Sonwani, Anganwadi Sahayika, said “The delay in the supply of nutritious food is troubling. We rely on these supplies to ensure the health of the children and pregnant women we serve.”

Uma Sonwani, from the Bhatapara Anganwadi Center added, “The situation is dire. We need the government to address this issue immediately to prevent malnutrition among our beneficiaries.”

‘No Files Stuck’

Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel criticised the current administration for altering a system that was functioning efficiently. “Our government had established a robust system, but it was changed. When will the nutrition food be made available again?” he asked.

Women and Child Development Minister Lakshmi Rajwade, however, maintains that the distribution of nutritious food is ongoing. “Ready-to-eat food is being provided continuously, no files are stuck. The Congress government had given contracts to make ready-to-eat food to the seed corporation. We have assigned the task to self-help groups,” she stated.



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