Midday meal scheme to get paltry hike of 6cr this year

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The Midday Meal (MDM) scheme catering to 12 crore children is all set to increase manifold with the implementation of the Right to Education Act is likely to get a paltry increase of Rs 6 crore in the 2011-12 general budget. Last year, Rs 10,380 crore was allocated for the scheme. The likelihood of a nominal increase in allocation to MDM, sources said, could seriously affect the implementation of the RTE Act. “There would not be enough fund to feed lakhs of new and out-ofschool children who will come into the school system this year,” a source said. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) may see a big jump in allocation Rs 21,000 crore from Rs 15,000 crore in 2010-11. The human resource development (HRD)ministry had pegged the demand for MDM to Rs 13,000 crore. MDM is the flagship programme closely linked to SSA, which is the vehicle to implement the RTE Act. Due to severe drought last year, it is expected that more children will be availing of MDM during this summer vaction. To add to it, the cooking cost estimated to be 60 per cent of the MDM budget will go up by 7.5 per cent. Lack of resources, officials said, would mean that additional focus on taking MDM to private unaided schools in tribal, scheduled caste and minority districts would not take place. Also, RTE stipulation that all kitchen shades be in place by 2013 will also miss the deadline. MDM in schools under National Child Labour Programme, which is currently underway in nine states, would also not be extended to 20 states as was planned. Lack of funds would also mean that the proposal to extend MDM till class X has been shelved.

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