Srinagar: The failure of the government to complete the construction of Kitchen sheds and poor utilization of funds under the centrally sponsored scheme- Mid-Day Meals (MDM) has marred the performance of the scheme in government-run schools over the past years.
As per official figures, the education department has failed to complete the construction of kitchen sheds over the years which has hit the implementation of the scheme.
As per the official figures, the school education department has completed around 50 percent of the target since the inception of the scheme in the Valley.
As per the figures mentioned in the ‘minutes of the meeting’, the School education department completed construction of 7118 out of 11815 kitchen sheds while as work on 4697 kitchen stores is yet to be started.
“The department has utilized an amount of Rs 28 crore for the construction of these kitchen sheds in Valley,” an official said.
The officials said besides its failure to complete the construction of kitchen sheds the department has failed to seek annual allocation of funds for the proper implementation of the scheme in valley.
Ironically, the Directorate of School Education Kashmir (DSEK) faced a lapse of around Rs 18 crore this year.
“These funds were meant for improving the infrastructure needed to implement the MDM scheme,” the official said.
The official said that even the money was released by GoI but, due to lack of efforts and coordination they couldn’t be utilized.
“Besides the poor utilization of funds the department failed to increase the enrollment in the government schools in primary and middle classes,” the official said pointing that the scheme was launched with an aim to increase the enrollment in schools upto class 8th.
“The scheme was launched to increase the enrollment in the schools but the scheme has not proved that much fruitful to serve the purpose. People don’t prefer to admit children in our schools,” officials said.
Notably, the department from time to time has been directing Chief Education Officers (CEOs) to activate the kindergarten section in government schools.
“The move was initiated with an aim to provide wholesome and quality education to the students in government schools. But it has seen no positive development on ground,” the official said.
Interestingly, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has also grilled J&K state’s school education department for its failure to complete the construction of Kitchen-cum stores sanctioned during the past years under MDM.
The issue was raised in the last Project Approval Board (PAB) meeting convened by MHRD.
The Union Ministry also raised serious concern over non-completion of construction work on kitchen cum stores sanctioned from the 2011-12 financial year.
Annoyed with the dismal performance of the state government, the union MHRD also turned down the proposal of the state government seeking approval for new 753 kitchen cum stores under the MDM scheme.
“PAB did not consider the proposal and asked the State Government to first complete the construction of pending Kitchen stores and later submit its proposal in 2018-19 PAB meeting,’ the official said.
They said MHRD has also pulled up the state government over the less coverage of students to be provided MDM in the government schools.
Interestingly, the department of school education this year has failed to utilized funds which were sanctioned and released under the scheme for the current financial year.
Director School Education GN Itoo admitted slow pace of construction on kitchen sheds and said that the department was facing paucity of land in schools.
“But we are trying our best to implement all the components of scheme in letter and spirit. The work on kitchen sheds will be started in coming months,” he said.