Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory along with 10 other states/UT have largely refrained from providing additional items under best practices under the Mid-day meal scheme (MDMS). The latest parliamentary standing committee report provides details about practices employed by government schools in various states and UTs across the nation.
The report points out that other than J&K UT, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Chandigarh UT and Sikkim do not provide any additional item in meals under the Central government-sponsored scheme. Other than these states/UT, remaining parts of the nation provide at least one additional item to students in their government schools under MDMS on fixed days in a week.
Some states/UTs provide eggs, milk, soya chunks, fruits, boiled potato, chicken, etc. Officials say that the recently formed UT is still struggling with basic features of the scheme, let alone provide additional items to the students. The poor condition of J&K can be accessed by the fact that the administration has not released funds for around 11 months to schools. Moreover, the UT lacks dedicated management for MDMS from state level to block level.
The J&K administration was having a balance of approximately Rs 150 lakh till end of last financial year to Food Corporation of India (FCI) for buying food grains.
Sources say that construction of kitchen cum stores has not started yet while they were sanctioned in 2011-12 for approximately Rs 38 crore. 1311 units of kitchen devices have not bought and installed yet. These were sanctioned in 2014-15 for Rs 65.5 lakh. Only 13% of total schools i.e., 2813 schools have a School Nutrition Garden. There are also no community participations under MDMS.
J&K UT is also poorly dealing with Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK). It is an initiative by the government for early identifying and intervening for children from birth to 18 years to better handle defects, deficiencies, diseases and development delays. In J&K, only 42% children were screened under this scheme and only 33% were provided Deworming Tablets.
MDMS was launched in J&K schools in 2004 with an aim to increase enrollment and retention in government schools and provide them with nutritional food.