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Wed22Oct2014

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Cooked midday meals in only 12% of Maharashtra's surveyed villages

Even where cooked meals are provided, they do not meet the nutritional requirements stipulated by the Supreme Court, according to a survey of food security schemes in Maharashtra conducted by the Anna Adhikar Abhiyan Maharashtra

Anna Adhikar Abhiyan Maharashtra undertook a study to get authentic data and facts on how and whether the SC order on provision of eight food security schemes into entitlements of the poor is being translated into action at the grassroots level and what the actual status of various food security schemes in Maharashtra is.

In spite of the fact that more than 60 million tonnes of foodgrain are lying unused in the godowns of the Food Corporation of India, millions of people in India continue to go hungry, there is widespread malnutrition, and starvation deaths occur repeatedly. To seek justice a petition concerning the Right to Food was filed in the Supreme Court of India in May 2001.

On November 28, 2001, the Supreme Court passed a significant order on this petition. The order effectively converted the provision of eight food security schemes into entitlements of the poor. This process signifies a definite forward movement in the collective struggle for the right to food and the order opens up an opportunity to ensure that the benefits of welfare schemes reach the poor and marginalised.

However, in order to convert the legal entitlement into an actual improvement in food security, we must monitor the implementation of the Supreme Court Orders at the ground level. For this, authentic data and facts is needed on how and whether the SC order is being translated into action at the grassroots level and what is the actual status of various food security schemes.

It is with this objective that a study was conducted by the Anna Adhikar Abhiyan in sample villages and urban settlements, in various districts of Maharashtra.

In this study, villages were chosen on the basis of convenience. An attempt was made to select at least 3 to 5 villages from each taluka. A total of 91 villages from 8 districts of Maharashtra were surveyed with the help of questionnaires. In rural areas the survey was conducted in:

Name of the district Name Of Taluka Number of villages
Pune Purandar
Mulashi
Paud
Shirur
Junnar
Khed
6
1
1
1
7
1
Nashik Niphad
Egatpuri
Trimbak
Peth
Shinde
1
3
2
2
1
Kolhapur Aajra 4
Thane Dahanu
Jawhar
Vikramgad
Wada
Palghar
Murbad
3
3
5
1
2
1
Sangli Miraj 1
Raigad Mangaon
Tala
Alibag
Srivardhan
Mhasala
5
3
2
3
4
Beed Dhanora
Beed
Ghewarai
Parali
Vaijanath Ambajogai
Kaij Shirur (Asar) Wadwani
Majalgaon
1
1
1
5
2
1
1
2
9
Chandrapur Warora 5
Total 8 districts 34 blocks 91

Similarly, sample urban settlements were selected in the cities of Mumbai and Pune. A total of 16 urban settlements were studied in these cities.

Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS)

The National Programme for Nutritional Support to Primary Education (MDMS) was started in 1995. Cooked mid-day meals were to be introduced in all government primary schools within two years. In the meantime, state governments were allowed to distribute monthly dry rations to the children instead of cooked mid-day meals.

The centre allocates to each district, through the FCI, a quantity of grain @ 100 gm of grain per child per day. The allocation is made based on the offtake of the previous term. Cooked meals with the content of 300 calories and 18-20 gm of protein are to be provided on every working day of school for at least 200 days a year to students having a minimum of 80% attendance in the previous month. Where dry rations are given, 3 kg of wheat or rice per month is to be provided to every child with 80% attendance for 10 months in a year.

The Supreme Court order regarding this scheme is that cooked mid-day meal is to be provided in all government and government-aided primary schools in all states. In states where the scheme is not operational, it is to be started in half the districts of the state (by order of poverty) by February 28, 2002. By May 28, 2002, it is to be started in the rest of the districts too.

Status of coverage of Mid Day Meal Scheme

Status Number of villages Percentage
Cooked meals given 11 12.1
Cooked meals not given 79 86.8
Data not available 1 1.1
Total 91 100
Only in 12% of the villages surveyed, cooked food was being given. In the majority of remaining villages, 3 kg of rice per student per month are given.

Status of coverage by MDMS in tribal areas

It has been claimed that cooked meals are being provided in tribal schools on a priority basis. However, among the tribal talukas, cooked meals are being given in less than one-third of the villages.


Percentage of actual beneficiaries compared to all eligible children

Percentage of children benefiting Number of villages
Less than 25% 3
Between 25 to 50 % 1
More than 75 but less than 100 % 3
100 % 3
More than 100 % 1
Total 11
Out of 11 villages where MDMS is being implemented, the coverage was less than 25% in one-fourth of the villages. Only 3 villages had covered 100% eligible children under the scheme.

In none of these 11 villages were children getting food equivalent to 300 calories and 8-12 grams of protein. In most of the villages only cooked rice was given and other supplements like cooked dal or vegetable were not being given.

Accessibility in case of MDMS

Status of primary education facilities in study area:

Location of primary school Number of villages Percentage
Within the village 79 86.8
Outside the village 11 12.1
Data not available 1 1.1
In most of the villages (87%), the facility for primary education was present within the village itself. Only in 12 % villages, the primary school was outside the village.

Distance of primary school from the village

Distance in kms. Number of villages
<1 km 6
>1 and <2km 4
>2 and <3km 1
Out of 10 villages where the school was outside the village, in majority of villages (6) the distance was less than 1 kilometre.


Regularity of the scheme

Cooked food was provided everyday in all the 11 villages.

In all these 11 schools the supply of foodgrains was reported to be regular.

Quality of food

Quality of food being given

Quality of food Number of villages
Good 1
Average 7
Poor 3
Total 11
In the majority of villages the quality of food being provided was average. However, quality was reported to be poor in one-fourth of the villages and in only one village good quality food was given.

Storage of foodgrains

Place of storage Number of villages
Ration shop 2
School 7
Other than this 1
Data not available 1
Total 11
In the majority of villages foodgrains were stored in the school premises. There was no separate storage space available.

Who prepares food in the school?

Person who prepares food Number of schools
Teacher 1
Students 1
Somebody else from village 9
Total 11
In the majority of villages, except 2 where students or teachers cooked the food, village women prepared the food.

Effect on attendance of children in the school

Effect on attendance Number of villages
Increase in attendance 3
No effect 3
Data not available 5
Total 11
Only in 3 schools attendance has increased after the cooked food was given in the school. However, information was not available from almost half of the schools in this regard.

Only in 9% of villages translated copies of the Supreme Court orders were displayed at the gram panchayat, school buildings and PDS shops.

In 7.7% of villages, the list of identified beneficiaries of the Mid Day Meal Scheme was displayed in the gram panchayat.

Status of MDMS in areas where cooked meals are not being given

Percentage of actual beneficiaries in these areas

Percentage of eligible children benefiting Number of villages
Less than 25% 6
Between 25 to 50 % 4
Between 50 to 75 % 2
More than 75 but less than 100 % 12
100 % 31
No information 25
Total 80
Data regarding actual beneficiaries or eligible beneficiaries was not available for almost 25 villages.

Out of those villages for which data was available, in more than half the villages the coverage was 100%.

Overall situation of Mid Day Meal Scheme

Out of 91 villages surveyed, in most of the villages (87%), the facility for primary education was present within the village it self. But only in 12% of villages, cooked food was being given. In the majority of remaining villages, till date 3 kg of rice per student per month is given. Out of 11 villages where MDMS is being implemented, only 3 villages had 100% coverage of the scheme. In only one-third of the tribal villages surveyed cooked meals are being given. However, in none of these 11 villages were children were getting food equivalent to 300 calories and 8-12 grams of protein. Cooked food was provided everyday in all the 11 villages. In the majority of villages the quality of food being provided was average. In all these 11 schools the supply of foodgrains was regular. In the majority of villages, village women prepared the food. Only in 9% of villages translated copies of the Supreme Court orders were displayed in the gram panchayat, school buildings and PDS shops. In only 7.7 % of villages, the list of identified beneficiaries of the Mid Day Meal Scheme was displayed in the gram panchayat.

Recommendations

  • All government and government-aided school students should get cooked food regularly, as per the SC order, with immediate effect.
  • Children should get food equivalent to 300 calories and 8-12 gm of protein. Food quality should be good and must include pulses/vegetables. The gram sabha and local monitoring committees should be given powers to monitor the regularity, quality and coverage of the scheme.
  • The state government should make the necessary financial arrangements for effective functioning of the scheme.


*The data from various areas has been provided by the constituent organisations of Anna Adhikar Abhiyan, Maharashtra. Data analysis has been done by the SATHI team of CEHAT