Phulbani: Even as there is a standing instruction from the state government to construct kitchens within school premises for cooking mid-day meals (MDM) in safe and hygienic condition, 404 schools of Kandhamal district are said to be having no kitchens, a report said.
According to sources, due to an apathetic attitude of the school and mass education department, these schools here cook MDM in unsafe and unhygienic conditions. The authorities not being able to take appropriate steps in this regard, despite the availability of sufficient funds, have raised the eyebrows of local parents and intelligentsia.
On the other hand, village panchayats have been entitled by the state government to take up construction works like school building, a boundary wall and kitchen room. Crores of rupees come to panchayats for this purpose, but it still fails to awaken the authorities.
As the grants given for construction of kitchen are much less, contractors are being reluctant to take up job contracts. However, there are 1871 government schools in the district out of which only 1467 schools have kitchens. Construction work of kitchens only at schools of Daringbadi block is complete, the sources said.
Moreover, efforts for construction of kitchens in 28 schools out of 199 under Baliguda, 42 schools out of 98 under G Udayagiri, 60 schools out of 138 under K Nuagaon, 55 schools out of 140 under Khajuripada, 52 out of 162 under Kotagada, 8 out of 215 under Phiringia, 7 out of 139 under Phulbani, 9 out of 102 under Tikabali, 19 out of 153 under Tumudibandha, 94 out of 129 under Raikia and 30 out of 123 under Chakapada blocks of Kandhamal district are yet to be initiated.
Requesting anonymity, an administrative officer said, “Since last year, the state government has entitled village panchayats for execution of repair and construction works like school building, boundary wall and kitchen rooms in case of lower as well as upper primary schools”.
However, in case of high schools all such job works will be carried out by the rural development department. Despite 14th state finance commission’s budget allocation for the purpose, the school and mass education department has not yet provided requisite funds. The kitchen construction works would commence thereafter, he added.
On being contacted, district rural development department project director Biswanath Barik said, “I will give a statement on this issue only after discussing this with the local Block Development Officers”.
Notably, many cases of schoolchildren falling sick after eating MDM were reported in past days. In such cases, poisonous insects, rodents and reptiles including lizards were found as MDM was cooked in unsafe and unhygienic conditions. Parents have demanded immediate steps to be taken by the district administration as well as the school and mass education authorities, in this regard.