Mumbai: The specific orders passed by the Bombay High Court to provide food to students in Malegaon city, under the midday meals scheme, seem to have made no impact on the authorities, as well as the contractor, appointed for supplying cooked foods. This can be said as the HC was on Wednesday informed that several schools in Malegaon did not receive food under the scheme and the students continue to be deprived of their midday meals.
A bench of Justices Shahrukh Kathawalla and Riyaz Chagla had last week ordered ‘stubborn’ authorities of Malegaon — the civic chief and the director of education (primary) — to ensure every child gets the midday meal. However, despite specific orders, no food was given to several schools.
The bench had passed this order last week after taking into account the fact that because of a ‘mere difference of opinion’ between the civic chief and the director of education (primary), students of over 22 schools in the city were being deprived of their meals for nearly a year now.
The difference between the two officials arose when the Malegaon civic chief made it mandatory for all schools to take cooked food from women self-help groups. He banned providing raw material to schools. On the other hand, several schools relied upon the ‘standing orders’ of the director of education, who opined that if schools have sufficient place to store and cook food, then they can be given raw material.
The director further opined that such schools are not bound to take the cooked food from women groups.
Amid this mere dispute, hundreds of students did not get their meals from June 2019, which ‘saddened’ the HC bench led by Justice Kathawalla, who had on March 4 passed specific orders for the authorities to start supplying cooked food from March 5 itself.
The bench had posted the matter for hearing on Wednesday when one of the schools through their counsel Narayan Bubna apprised the judges of the fact that at least four of them have not got any food yet.
Having heard the same, the bench ordered the contractor, who disputed the contention, to prove that it has supplied food as per the HC order.
Meanwhile, the school in its affidavit also highlighted several lapses on part of the authorities in implementing the midday meals scheme.
“The scheme requires supplying hot cooked food but the meal supplied (to schools) was cold. The meal is to be transported in closed vehicles but it is being brought in open trucks. Also, it must be supplied in insulated containers but usually, it is given in open pots just by putting a plate over them,” the affidavit reads.
The affidavit further highlights the quantity of the meals has been substantially little in several cases. It further states there was no availability of manpower to supply food to students and moreover it was brought much after the recess time is over.