Midday meal rules altered

A new set of rules for the implementation of the midday meal scheme by the BMC has got principals of government and private-aided schools in a spot of bother. On one hand, the long list of rules aims at empowering principals to ensure that the midday meals being provided to children are healthy and safe, while on the other hand it make principals and teachers of individual schools accountable for any and every untoward incident that may occur due to the meals.
Prashant Redij, spok-esperson for the Maharashtra State Principals Association, Mumbai region said, “The new rules empower the principals to some extent, but the added responsibilities come at a price.” Mr Redij was referring to a rule that stipulates schools will have to send samples of meals to the BMC laboratory at Dadar at least once a month to ensure the quality of the midday meal maintained.
Another rule states that the principals will have to pay a fine of `2,000 if food is not cooked on a particular day, even if the fault lies with the contractor who supplies the cooked food to the school.
“The rules are stringent and have been implemented only in Mumbai. Though some of the rules empower us to conduct a check on the kitchens, the negatives outnumber the positives,” said Mr Redij. He, however, added that some of the rules were necessary and need to be implemented statewide.
“The rules are not harsh at all,” said Mr R.R. Bhise, BMC’s education officer. “The testing at the BMC lab will be free of cost. If the principals are made accountable, it is because they are considered responsible persons and by taking interest in the cooking process, they will ensure that contractors do not play truant,” said Mr Bhise.
“We will be placing the list of rules in a state-wide meeting of principals at Pune on Friday. Principals from other parts of the state will be asked to pursue the education supervisors of their respective districts and ask them to implement some of the BMC rules,” said Mr Redij.

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