The Ministry of Petroleum has rejected the HRD Ministry’s request to consider providing LPG cylinders at a subsidised rate for the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) programme. Saddled with an additional financial burden of over Rs 600 crore, the HRD Ministry will now request the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to permit it to use its allocated funds for procuring LPG cylinders at market rates.
On an average, a school serving MDM consumes 5-6 LPG cylinders per month. At present, the HRD Ministry spends over Rs 650 crore annually on the scheme, which is estimated to reach out to about 12 crore children in over 12.65 lakh primary and upper primary schools across the country. With a reasonably high amount usually earmarked for MDM, the HRD Ministry is learnt to already have additional funds to the tune of some Rs 1,300 crore with it carrying over from last year.
The HRD Ministry on Friday also told Parliament that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas had not agreed to allow supply of subsidised LPG cylinders under MDM scheme. It has instead advised that the additional burden of Rs 653 crore on the scheme due to increase in the prices of LPG cylinders be compensated through the budgetary provision for the scheme.
Minister Pallam Raju also said the ministry will use its own resources to ensure that the scheme is not hit in any way.