Raipur: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pointed out several deficiencies in the implementation of mid-day meal scheme in Chhattisgarh.
The mid-day meal scheme was launched on August 15, 1995, by the Centre with an aim to boost universalisation of primary education by increasing enrolment, retention and attendance, and simultaneously improving nutritional status of students in primary classes.
The CAG report on General, Social and Economic (non-PSUs) for the year ended March 2015, which was yesterday tabled in the state Assembly, underlined ineffective monitoring, non-utilisation of funds and lack of infrastructural facilities as deficiencies under the scheme.
Pointing out lack of monitoring, the CAG report said, there were shortfalls in the meetings of state-level Steering-cum-Monitoring Committee (SLSMC) aimed to oversee the implementation of the scheme, as only five meetings were held against the minimum target of ten during 2010-11 to 2014-15.
Thus, the shortfall in number of meetings gave less opportunity to SLSMC to review the status of the scheme, rendering the monitoring ineffective, it said.
The report also suggested that the scheme failed to retain children in schools.
"The enrolment of children in the mid-day meal covered schools registered a consistent decline by 22 per cent over the years from 42.23 lakh children in 2010-11 to 35.43 lakh children in 2014-15," it said.
In contrast, the enrolment of children in private schools witnessed an increase of 34 per cent from 8.25 lakh to 11.03 lakh during the same period, indicating that mid-day meal in itself was not a sufficient condition to retain children in schools, and that there was a growing section looking for quality in education, it said.
The enrolment in test-checked districts also did not improve and consistently declined (1 to 26 per cent, except Bastar) during the period.
"The declining trend in enrolment indicates that the scheme failed to retain children in schools," it said.
On being pointed out these facts, the government stated that the attitude of parents towards private schools, increase in number of private schools and lack of correctness in the database of previous year were the main reasons for the drop in enrolment of children, the CAG report said. During the period 2010-11 to 2014-15, the Directorate of Public Instruction incurred an expenditure of Rs 2,386.37 crore out of the available fund of Rs 2,665.79 crore on implementation of the scheme, the report said.
"The department was not able to utilise the entire funds available. The savings during these years were mainly due to non-utilisation of funds under cooking cost, honorarium to cook-cum-helper and monitoring, management and evaluation (MME) funds," it said.
In 8,932 schools, the mid-day meal was cooked in open areas/classrooms in unhygienic condition, as the work of construction of kitchen-cum-store was not completed in 6,985 schools and not commenced in 1,947 schools.
Funds amounting to Rs 57.16 crore were blocked in these kitchen-cum-stores, the CAG report stated.
It also revealed that mid-day meals was not served in all schools, as approved by the Programme Approval Board.
"During the period, 233 schools were not covered under the scheme. There was shortfall of one to 154 days against the minimum target of 210 days in providing mid-day meal in 210 test checked schools," it said.