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Contracts with NGOs providing meals weak, says Delhi’s Dy CM Manish Sisodia on mid-day meals

We need to look at nutritional value of food along with quality and are thinking of increasing the money the government spends on the scheme.

Written by Mallica Joshi | New Delhi |
February 27, 2017 4:57:20 am
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With nine children falling sick after dead rats were found in their food, the spotlight is back on mid-day meals. The Indian Express tracks the food from the kitchens to the students, and discovers some bumps along the way. Here are the excerpts from an interview with Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia:

What steps has government taken to ensure hygiene and nutritional value of mid-day meals after rats were found in food served by a contractor?

The errant NGO, in whose food the rats were found, was given the contract in 2011 and has been serving food ever since. We have initiated the process to change the service provider but it is a long process. Action is being taken. Since we have come into power, reports of any problem with the quality of food have been seriously looked into. This incident, however, was completely shocking and unacceptable. We have sent senior IAS officers to conduct spot checks to all 33 kitchens where food is being prepared. They have started sending me reports and suggestions and, based on these, a more efficient system will be formulated.

NGOs that prepare meals have complained they are not paid on time. Why is this the case?

In the two years that I have been here (in power), I have not received a single complaint from NGOs regarding payments. Even if money was a problem, compromising with the quality is no way to deal with it. Come, tell me instead. We will act. We have looked at contracts of NGOs providing mid-day meals and have found them to be weak. We are looking at framing contracts that hold NGOs accountable.

What kind of suggestions are you getting from the officials visiting kitchens?

Some officials have said that money given to NGOs per child (around Rs 5) is inadequate. We need to look at nutritional value of food along with quality and are thinking of increasing the money the government spends on the scheme. Another thing we are looking at is giving contracts to charities which will add to the nutritional value instead of looking for a profit.

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