97% mid-day meal samples at Mumbai schools sub-standard: CAG

New Delhi: A staggering 97% of the samples of meals served under the mid-day meal scheme in Mumbai schools over the past five years failed to meet the standards, the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report says. On an average, 66% of the 269 selected schools did not provide cooked meals on all school days during 2010 to 2015, the CAG report on general and social sector for the year ended March 2015 says. The report was tabled during the ongoing monsoon session of Maharashtra Legislature.

“A performance audit of the scheme for 2010-2015 revealed inadequate coverage of schools falling under the notified drought-affected districts,” the report says.

“During 2010-15, 97 per cent of the samples of cooked meals lifted from central kitchens in Mumbai failed to meet the calorific value and protein content prescribed under the scheme,” it says. Further, the mid-day meals were not tasted regularly by teachers and school management committee members.

“There were shortfalls in training and health check-up of cook-cum-helpers. The schools were using packaged food items like cooking oil and condiments even after expiry dates,” it adds.

Monitoring of the scheme was weak due to non-formation of district-level committee, ineffective public grievance redress system and non-establishment of flying squads. Besides, despite the mid-day meal scheme, enrollment of children in government schools in 2014-15 fell compared to 2010-11, the CAG report says.

Government should take urgent steps for direct transfer of funds to schools for the scheme’s expenditure, find out reasons for disruption in supply of meals and ensure consumption of packaged items well before expiry dates, it recommends.