In September, a journalist in Uttar Pradesh had exposed the corruption in the midday meal scheme after he came across students who were being served roti and salt. The UP government instead of rectifying the mistake, filed a case against the journalist. Now, the Minister of Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has revealed in the Lok Sabha that Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of corruption cases in the mid-day meal scheme.
To questions asked by BJP MP Bharati Pravin Pawar about the number and details of the cases of corruption in Mid-Day Meal Scheme in the last three years and if cases were registered, Pokhrial said that the government has received 52 complaints on corruption in the implementation of the mid-day meal scheme with Uttar Pradesh recording the maximum number of complaints (14).
“A total of 52 complaints were reported regarding corruption in implementation of mid-day meal scheme across the country during the last three years. The overall responsibility for providing cooked and nutritious mid-day meal to the eligible children lies with state governments and UTs administrations,” stated Pokhrial.
According to the data provided by the MHRD ministry, Bihar has 11 cases of corruption under MDMS, followed by West Bengal with 6 cases in the last three years. In 2017, Bihar had 2, in 2018 (7) and in 2019 (2) complaints were reported on corruption in the implementation of the mid-day meal scheme. Maharashtra recorded five cases of corruption. Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Tripura, Chattisgarh, Punjab and Odisha recorded one case of corruption each.
Of these 52 cases, 47 are under enquiry at the state level, stated Pokhrial in his response to Pawar. The response states that the respective states have taken action such as issuing warning against the official responsible, terminating the contract of concerned organisations, initiating criminal proceedings and imposing penalties against the defaulting officials and organisations.
Slamming the UP government, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi underscored that Uttar Pradesh was leading in Midday meal corruption. The government every day blows its trumpet over it’s achievements, but in fact it’s all just propaganda. Priyanka Gandhi tweeted that the corruption was happening right under the nose of the BJP government
The government also revealed that around 931 children had fallen sick after eating the midday meal in the last three years. Jharkhand recorded the highest number of casualties with 259 followed by 201 in Maharashtra and 154 in Uttar Pradesh. This was in response to questions asked by Bhartruhari Mahtab, Annpurna Devi, Rahul Ramesh Shewale and Vasanthakumar H.