Meal workers seek clarity
The All Assam Primary Schools Midday Meal Cook and Helpers’ Association on Sunday asked state education minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya to disclose the names of the teachers involved in corruption and instigating the meal workers to protest against the NGOs.
On November 15, Bhattacharya had alleged that certain headmasters of primary schools in the state resorted to corrupt practices while operating the midday meal schemes. The minister said the government had gathered enough evidence, both still and video images, to prove this.
Association general secretary Zahanara Begum told The Telegraph, “The midday meal scheme has been efficiently carried out by the teachers, cooks and helpers across the state since 2005. If certain teachers misappropriated the funds meant for the midday meal schemes, why were they not punished? It is the government’s duty to check and penalise the erring persons.”
Begum said, “If the teachers had misused a portion of the goods and funds meant for the midday meals, the minister is handing over the scheme to the NGOs hoping for a greater amount of commission.”
She said just because a few teachers have done wrong, the minister cannot hand over a government scheme to a private institution and victimise the entire community involved in the scheme.
“If the minister is removing the cooks and helpers from preparing midday meals as a measure to check corruption, what is the guarantee that the NGOs will not resort to the same?” Begum asked.
The general secretary of the association said the meal workers will not allow the students to consume the cooked meals prepared by the NGOs.
“We have been waiting for the report of the month-long inquiry being conducted by the principal secretary (food, civil supplies and consumer affairs) Biswaranjan Samal. If the report goes against the cooks and helpers, we will fight it tooth and nail,” Begum said.