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Assam NGOs under lens for poor quality midday meals

THE ASIAN AGE. | MANOJ ANAND
Published : Nov 11, 2019, 4:45 am IST
Updated : Nov 11, 2019, 5:13 am IST

After the NGOs took over, there have been several allegations of mismanagement in the supply of midday meals since November 1.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. (Photo: File)
 Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. (Photo: File)

Guwahati: Bogged down by growing complaint of poor quality food, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal has directed principal secretary of food, civil supplies and consumer affairs department Biswaranjan Samal to conduct an inquiry into allegations of the mid-day meals being of poor quality and submit a report within one month.

Restoring the old practices of preparing and distribution of mid-day meal among children, Mr Sonowal has placed the new system of handing over responsibility to NGOs user suspension.

The chief minister’s office has also instructed the authorities to go back to the previous arrangement of midday meals being provided by school authorities instead of NGOs till the inquiry is complete.

The implementation of midday meal scheme in Assam has been i9n the thick of a major controversy after state education department decided to engage NGOs to prepare and supply midday meals to schools. Midday meal workers, involved in schools across Assam, had vehemently opposed the move and strong launched protests.

After the NGOs took over, there have been several allegations of mismanagement in the supply of midday meals since November 1. Allegations of ‘low quality’ food being served, as pointed out by many students and teachers, has been the biggest concern for the government. Over 100 students of Baruahola School in Tinsukia and No. 9 Chinatolia Chah Sramik LP School in Lakhimpur reportedly fell sick and were hospitalised after eating midday meals supplied by NGOs under new contract.

Meanwhile, several social organisations and trade unions under the banner of Ganasanga-thansamuhor Joutha Mancha, Asom staged a protest demonstration in Guwahati, asking the state government  to withdraw its decision of engaging NGOs for providing midday meals.

“On one hand, the midday meal workers are intensifying their protest, seeking security of their work and on the other hand, low quality food is being supplied to schools by the NGOs. In many places across the state, guardians has refused to allow their children to eat such meals,” alleged Madan Talukdar of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (Citu).

Tags: sarbananda sonowal, ngos, midday meals
Location: India, Assam, Guwahati (Gauhati)