Exaggeration of figures in Mid Day Meal scheme: CAG

There is an "institutionalised exaggeration" of figures about children benefiting from Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme and irregularities like inflated costs and fudging of data prevail, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has found.

PTI| Updated: Dec 18, 2015, 19:52 PM IST

New Delhi: There is an "institutionalised exaggeration" of figures about children benefiting from Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme and irregularities like inflated costs and fudging of data prevail, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has found.

The enrolment of children in schools providing mid-day meals is showing a "consistent" decline indicating that more and more people are seeking better education and not just food, the auditor said in a report that was tabled in the Parliament today.

"The mechanism in place for assimilating data on the number of children availing MDM was seriously compromised. The percentage of actual children availing MDM as gathered from various sources was consistently lower than that furnished by the states to the (HRD) Ministry for claiming cost of
food grains and cooking costs," the CAG said in its report. 

 

It added that the audit "evidenced an institutional exaggeration of figures" regarding students taking meals, irregular diversion or theft of food grains, inflated
transportation costs and fudging of data pertaining to supplying of food grains.

"All these point to widespread leakages leading to losses and misappropriations in the scheme," the CAG added in its report while blaming "inadequate" monitoring by the Centre and states. 

The Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry should get data submitted examined through independent checks and a system of surprise checks should be introduced to check malpractices, it recommended.

In its report the CAG also said that from 14.69 crore in 2009-10, the number of children enrolled in schools covered by the MDM scheme has come down to 13.87 crore.

In contrast, the enrolment of children in private schools witnessed a jump from 4.02 crore to 5.53 crore during the same period.

"Clear trends were noticed, which demonstrated that the meal served its purpose only when the expectation of the parents, with respect to good education for their wards, was fulfilled," the CAG said in its report.

The auditor's observation assumes significance as the MDM scheme was launched two decades back with an aim to increase enrolment and retention of children in schools.

 

The CAG audit also found many other shortcomings in the implementation of the Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme from 2009-10 to 2013-14.

The audit also revealed that prescribed inspections to ensure quality of grains and meals were not been carried out and often food was being prepared in unhygienic conditions exposing children to health hazards.

Another shortcoming that the audit found was that most states had not formulated any criteria to identify poor children belonging to disadvantaged sections, whom the scheme aims to benefit.

In addition prescribed health checks were also not being conducted, which are an important tool to ascertain nutritional improvement, the report said.

The prescribed nutrition to children was not being provided in schools of at least nine states, it said.

Mentioning the example of Delhi, the CAG said that 1876 or 89 percent of 2102 samples tested by an agency, engaged for the purpose, failed to meet the prescribed nutritional standards.

The report said that the HRD ministry should strengthen the flow of information and emphasised that a grievance redressal mechanism should be established so that complaints received can be resolved promptly.

The CAG, in the report also pointed out that the Public Accounts Committee of the 15th Lok Sabha had made several recommendations based on its earlier report, but despite actions reported by the ministry, the concerns had largely gone unaddressed. 

The CAG audit also found many other shortcomings in the implementation of the Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme from 2009-10 to 2013-14.

The audit also revealed that prescribed inspections to ensure quality of grains and meals were not been carried out and often food was being prepared in unhygienic conditions exposing children to health hazards.

Another shortcoming that the audit found was that most states had not formulated any criteria to identify poor children belonging to disadvantaged sections, whom the scheme aims to benefit.

In addition prescribed health checks were also not being conducted, which are an important tool to ascertain nutritional improvement, the report said.

The prescribed nutrition to children was not being provided in schools of at least nine states, it said.

Mentioning the example of Delhi, the CAG said that 1876 or 89 percent of 2102 samples tested by an agency, engaged for the purpose, failed to meet the prescribed nutritional standards.

The report said that the HRD ministry should strengthen the flow of information and emphasised that a grievance redressal mechanism should be established so that complaints received can be resolved promptly.

The CAG, in the report also pointed out that the Public Accounts Committee of the 15th Lok Sabha had made several recommendations based on its earlier report, but despite actions reported by the ministry, the concerns had largely gone unaddressed.