Guwahati, March 26: The Centre has rapped the Assam government for its failure to properly implement the midday meal scheme.
The Centre observed that there is a delay in the flow of funds from the state to the block and school level, affecting proper implementation of the scheme.
“In a recent meeting, the Centre categorically pointed out that there was a delay of seven to eight months in releasing funds from the state to the block and school levels. It said such a delay was a major hurdle in the proper implementation of the ambitious scheme in Assam,” said a source.
The Centre said in the last financial year, Assam utilised only 61 per cent of the allocated foodgrain. Tinsukia and Nagaon were among the worst, utilising 38 per cent and 29 per cent of the allocated foodgrain respectively.
The Centre also pointed out that the Assam government delayed payment to the Food Corporation in India.
“The FCI had submitted bills for Rs 3,534 lakh between April 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013 towards the cost of foodgrain. Assam has paid only Rs 701 lakh (20 per cent) to the FCI. It is evident that a large amount of the bill is yet to be paid,” the Centre said in a report.
The report said ideally, the percentage utilisation of cooking costs and foodgrain should tally with each other.
“But data furnished in the annual work plan and budget by the Assam government has revealed that there is a mismatch of 4 per cent in the utilisation of cooking cost and foodgrain. The mismatch is 39 per cent in Tinsukia, 33 per cent in Nagaon and 26 per cent in Dima Hasao District,” it said.
“Central assistance of Rs 3,113.35 lakh has been released towards the procurement of 62,267 units of kitchen devices between 2006-07 and 2013-14. The state has procured only 17,666 (28 per cent) units as on December 31, 2013. It is evident that the progress in the procurement of kitchen devices is quite slow,” the Centre observed.
The state government has sought a total of Rs 53,714.92 lakh, including Rs 4,957.45 lakh as minimum state share, for the 2014-15 financial years to feed 30,74,194 students at the primary level, 14,34,876 in the upper primary level and 13,736 students under the National Child Labour Project.
In Assam, the midday meal scheme began in January 2005.
It covered school-going children of Classes I to VIII in government, provincialised and government-aided lower primary, upper primary, composite high and higher secondary schools and special training centres.
It also covered madarsas or maqtabs covered under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and schools under the National Child Labour Project, run by the labour department.