States have done well to initiate transfers in lieu of mid-day meals, but they need to be more proactive
One of the safeguards built in the mid-day meal scheme was the provisioning of a food security allowance if, for some reason, the administration was not able to provide meals to students. While the provision was laid down in the National Food Security Bill, 2013, the detailed procedure was underlined in the Food Security Allowance Rules, 2015. However, the current pandemic exposed the ill-preparedness of some states with regards to transferring food security allowance to students.
While a few states like Uttarakhand had done well to transfer such amount initially, Delhi had not even started the exercise till July 5. This despite the fact that the Union education ministry had asked the state governments to either provide hot cooked meals, or transfer the food security allowance to students’ accounts.
The Delhi government, on Monday, informed the Delhi High Court that it was in the process of completing the exercise of payment at the earliest. As per The Hindu, the government told the court that it had identified 8,24,164 total beneficiaries. Of these, payments were made to 8,21,768 at Rs 85 per month for primary school and Rs 78 per for upper primary. However, these payments have only been made for March, whereas schools have been shut for five months now. In the case of Uttarakhand, the state could not complete the payment due to non-availability of funds. While the states are doing well to initiate such transfers now, they need to be more proactive and ensure that allowances are disbursed on time.