BANGALORE: The Bihar tragedy where 22 children died after eating lunch apparently contaminated with insecticide last week, has made the Karnataka government to come out with a proposal of starting an independent water source for cooking food under mid-day meals to school children.
Primary and secondary education minister Kimmane Ratnakar told the legislative council on Tuesday that the Chhapra tragedy was a warning bell for the government and it has initiated scores of initiatives in schools following the incident including plans to delink teaching staff from preparing food.
Maintaining that the scheme in the state was near to 100% error free, the minister said over 60 lakh school children are getting the benefits of mid-day meal every day. “Barring one incident, where a girl child died after slipping into sambar vessel last year, the scheme is running successfully since it was introduced in 2002. More than 6 crore children have benefitted by the scheme till date,” Ratnakar said.
Mid-day meals is being given in around 55,000 schools and the government was into building quality kitchens in these schools. Only 75% of the schools have kitchens. Ratnakar said the Centre has announced that it would provide Rs 3 lakh to built a kitchen and Rs 5,000 to buy utensils. “There is also scheme where Centre will provide Rs 3,500 per month to grow vegetables in water availability areas. Rs 7,000 grant per month on big schemes and government has planned to give milk from August at a cost of Rs 600 crore,” he said.
Of the Rs 18,000 crore allocation for the department, Rs 11,000 are being spent on the salary. Ratnakar informed that Rs 180 crore was being spent on providing free uniforms every year and Rs 3,500 crore needed upgrade school buildings.
The minister said he himself will go the corporate companies seeking financial help from them to construct/upgrade government schools. Ratnakar said the government will identify schools and corporates themselves can fund the projects. “Let corporates give money directly to the contractors, we will restrict ourselves to identifying the schools. We expect at least two schools to be developed in each zilla panchayat limits,” he said.
Measures taken after the tragedy:
*Precaution and cleanliness to be maintained in kitchen
*Cleanliness in water being supplied by water tanks
*Quality storage of food grains
*Precaution to be taken in drinking water
*To preserve nutrition in the food