Refuses to bow down to pressure and keep NGOs out of scheme
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has clearly indicated that ‘dadagiri’ of some Self Help Groups (SHGs) serving mid-day meals (MDM) to students will not be tolerated. Replying to demands of the Education department in the Legislative Assembly on Monday, the CM also maintained that a non-government organization will join the scheme, as he refused to bow down to the pressure to keep NGOs out of the scheme.
While announcing that Food & Drugs Administration (FDA) would soon begin holding surprise inspections to test the food cooked by these SHGs, he also clarified that the government has not asked any SHG to walk out of the scheme.
“We are running this Central government scheme for the students, not the SHGs. Everyone is talking about injustice to SHGs but what about the children? In Canacona, last year, around 5,000 children were left without food… Every time there was dadagiri (by the SHGs). Who is responsible for all?” the CM said.
The government, he added, has doubled the money under the MDM scheme, per student despite which there have been issues with them on trivial matters.
He further informed the House that FDA officials have already been directed to hold inspections of the SHG kitchens to ensure cleanliness and quality food for the students, across all 12 talukas.
The CM was replying to concerns raised by various ruling legislators stating that the SHGs have been running the scheme for several years and bringing an NGO, would be an injustice to the former.
Claiming that children have the right to nutritious food, the CM requested the legislators to pay a sudden visit to their respective schools to taste the MDM. “Some have outsourced their SHGs to individuals. The SHG is just for the name sale. Practically, there is no SHG. There is someone who signs the register and he/she also gets the money to do that,” the CM alleged highlighting irregularities. “There are some genuine SHGs who have worked diligently even during the crisis,” he added.
Sawant also clarified that by issuing the tender in June inviting CSO/NGOs for the project, they have not canceled the contract with the SHGs. “However, if anyone wants to leave, we will not request them to return. If any SHG is serving quality food, they should continue,” he further said.
With the government yet to decide on finalizing the bidder to run the scheme, the NGO is likely to be taken on a long term contract.