UP School Dilutes 1 Litre Milk With Water To Feed 81 Kids During Mid-Day Meal
In a shocking incident, 81 children in a Salai Banwa Primary School in Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh are being given “highly” diluted milk. One litre of milk diluted with water is being served to children.
In the video reportedly taken by a member of the gram panchayat on Wednesday, November 27, the cook is seen boiling water in a large aluminium container before adding milk from a one-litre carton. The cook is seen giving the milk to students in steel glasses. Every student is given about half-a-glass of the highly diluted milk.
Sonbhadra district is one of the most underdeveloped areas in Uttar Pradesh. Social workers claim that the children from poor families in the district depend on the state-run scheme at government schools for at least one nutritious meal a day.
The government primary school at Sonbhadra district’s Chopan has 171 students, of whom 81 turned up at the school on Wednesday when milk was served.
The district administration said they immediately ensured more milk was distributed on the same day of the incident, adding they are investigating why the right amount of milk was not served to the children though enough milk was available in the school.
“I have conducted an inquiry. We use packet milk here because we cannot source milk from cows or buffaloes. But there was enough milk in the school and we later redistributed the milk to the children. The first time there was an error, but it was rectified immediately,” block education officer Mukesh Kumar told Times Now.
The cook who distributed milk to the school children, however, claimed that she was given only one packet of milk. “I diluted one litre of milk with a bucket of water. We were only given a packet of milk yesterday, so that’s what I had to do,” the cook, Phoolwanti, told the media.
Defending the incident, Jitendra Kumar, a teacher, said, “The cook probably did not know that more milk was available.” A senior education officer, Gorakhnath Patel, said there was not enough milk in the school.
“I am being told milk was unavailable, so they were directed by the authorities to mix water in it, in a balanced quantity. I am also being told that teachers had gone to get more milk but meanwhile pictures were clicked and distributed,” Patel said. “I am investigating the matter. Action will be taken against the culprits,” he added.
Corruption In Mid-Day Meals
The video of the Sonbhadra school has surfaced two months after a journalist from Uttar Pradesh was charged by the police for exposing salt and roti being served in mid-day meal at a government school. The police alleged the journalist conspired to defame the state government by showing children eating rotis with salt.
According to the data presented in the Lok Sabha by Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Uttar Pradesh records the highest number of corruption cases involved in the Mid Day Meal scheme. Out of the 52 complaints filed in the last three years, 14 complaints come from UP with Bihar inching closer with 11 complaints. Out of the 52 complaints, 47 of them are under inquiry and are being investigated, and three are yet to be proved under the scheme.
The state governments and the Union Territory administration were requested by the government to provide with an Action Taking Report which include actions such as issuing a warning against the official responsible, terminating the contract of the NGO/organizations involved and imposing penalties against the officials who fail to perform the tasks under this scheme.