In an effort to combat the mid-day meal crisis in the state, the Government of Kerala has taken significant steps. A total of Rs 210 crore has been released to alleviate the financial burden on schools related to mid-day meal expenses for the months of June, July, and the first installment for August. Additionally, the state honorarium for mid-day meal cooks for the same period has been distributed, as per the Kerala General Education Department.
The Mid-Day Meal Crisis
Over the past few months, many schools in Kerala have faced financial difficulties due to a lack of funding for the mid-day meal program, now known as PM Poshan. Kerala Education Minister V Sivankutty, on September 7, criticized the Central Government for not releasing its fair share of funds. However, on September 8, the Education Ministry responded by stating that Kerala had not followed the guidelines for PM Poshan. According to the ministry, the state was deemed ‘ineligible’ for further funding because it had not transferred the central share of funds to the Single Nodal Account (SNA) of the department.
The Union education ministry clarified that it had already transferred Rs 132.90 crore to the Kerala Government to fulfill its contractual obligations. Furthermore, the additional fund of Rs 210 crore for the mid-day meal scheme, disbursed recently, was also transferred to the SNA. However, the Kerala General Education Department issued a statement on Thursday, revealing that the Rs 132.90 crore disbursed by the government was actually part of the central share of the mid-day meal installment for the fiscal year 2021-22. The state alleged that this installment was transferred just one day before the conclusion of the 2021-22 financial year.
The Kerala General Education Department clarified that the Rs 210 crore released by the state includes the Rs 132.90 crore from the central government. The state government also noted that it had already made payments to mid-day meal cooks, with the exception of Rs 1,000 that it has yet to receive from the central government.
It’s important to understand that funding for the PM Poshan mid-day meal scheme is split between the union and state governments, with the union providing 60% of the funding. The central government typically distributes its share in two installments, accounting for 60% and 40% of the total.
These recent developments highlight the ongoing challenges faced by schools in Kerala and the efforts of both the state and central governments to address the mid-day meal crisis. The release of Rs 210 crore is expected to provide much-needed relief to schools and mid-day meal cooks, but the situation remains complex due to the funding distribution issues between the two levels of government.
Efforts to resolve the funding dispute and ensure the smooth operation of the PM Poshan mid-day meal program continue as both parties work towards a sustainable solution.
The mid-day meal crisis in Kerala has been a cause for concern, and the recent release of Rs 210 crore by the state government is a step in the right direction. It is crucial for both the union and state governments to collaborate effectively to ensure that schools and mid-day meal cooks receive the necessary support to carry out this vital program for the benefit of students.