NORTH LAKHIMPUR, Nov 1 - Widespread irregularities and severe shortage was witnessed on the first day of serving of MID-Day Meal scheme in Lakhimpur district by the Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF).
The lunch provided by APF could not reach many schools in Lakhimpur district today leaving hundreds of students hungry. The schools which could not get the MDM lunch today are Madharam LP School, No. 3 Nakari LP School, Bogeenadi LP School, Gagaldubi LP School, Mazgaon LP School and North Lakhimpur Railway High School and many more. Many schools received insufficient amount of lunch in the form of rice and dal only. The supposed green vegetables included in the lunch were also missing from the menu served today.
At Bogeenadi HS School, the lunch sent by APF could feed only 20 students whereas the school has more than 300 students. As a result, the school returned the lunch. Many schools complained of very watery dal in the lunch.
It may be mentioned that there is a stir by Mid-Day Meal workers against the State government�s decision to hand over the MDM scheme to Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF). The State government�s decision to hand over the service of providing lunch to Akshaya Patra Foundation for the State run schools has been drawing ire from the existing MDM staff in Assam.
In Lakhimpur district also the stir by MDM staff was very strong resulting in lathicharge by the police in North Lakhimpur on Thursday.
Our Silchar Staff Correspondent adds: Following the Government decision to hand over the mid-day meal scheme to NGOs, the distribution of food in a new platform across the State began from Friday.
ADC (Education) Cachar, Lalita Rongpipi said that NGO Akriti has got the responsibility of catering mid-day meal to 320 schools in the vicinity.
�The NGO will cater to the schools in the surrounding areas and even to some schools on the outskirts. We are satisfied with the new approach of mid day meal distribution. The preparation is done in a hygienic way and hope that the end users shall be benefited,� Rongpipi maintained.
However, all was not well with the approach of meal distribution in Silchar as students in many schools of the district could not avail food owing to an alleged delay in distribution of meals by the NGO.
On conditions of anonymity, a senior teacher of a Government School said, � the students kept waiting for food, men from the NGO reached at 1:30 pm. We sent them back. While the schedule menu was of rice and dal, they came with khichdi. This was not expected.�
Complaints of similar instances of delay in delivering the meals came from many schools as well.
Reacting on the allegations, Arun Jain, coordinator of the NGO told The Assam Tribune that the delay was caused due a protest by the cook and the helpers. �Yes there was an inadvertent delay. There was no stock of rice ready for us to prepare. However, we tried our best to get the meals ready and sent the same to schools.� He informed that they will sit with ADC (Education) to chalk out a solution in the coming days and go about their assigned tasks in the coming days.
A Correspondent adds from Nagaon: Challenging the Assam Sarva Siksha Abhiyan�s (SSA) decision to authorise some NGOs to provide the mid-day meal in the State�s government schools, thousands of cooks and their helpers of various government schools of the district today organised a protest here on the Nagaon-Laokhowa road near Teliagaon Chariali and shouted slogans against the decision of the department. The agitators submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister and demanded immediate withdrawal of that decision. They feared that the decision would pave the way to curtail their rights or would make them jobless in the days to come.
During the stir, some of the agitators went on a rampage and when the police personnel as well as other security personnel tried to bring them under control, a struggle took place. The protesters as well as the security personnel manhandled each other.
Amidst the melee, a speeding pickup truck rammed one woman police personnel. The injured police woman, identified as Binti Bora, was immediately admitted to the local hospital here.
Our Kokrajhar Correspondent adds: Mid-day meal workers of Kokrajhar district today staged a protest in front of the Deputy Commissioner�s office, Kokrajhar and shouted slogans in support of their long-pending demands.
The protesters strongly opposed the decision of the Government to hand over the mid-day meal scheme to a private organisation. They slammed the government and criticised the BJP government for its false assurances and promises to the general people.
Later, they also submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister through the Deputy Commissioner of Kokrajhar.