The Union Minister for Education Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ on Friday approved the proposal to provide monetary assistance to 11.8 crore students (118 million students) through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of the cooking cost component of the mid-day-meal scheme, to all eligible children, as a special welfare measure.
This will give a fillip to the mid-day meal programme. The assistance is in addition to the Government of India’s announcement of distribution of free-of-cost food grains at 5 kg per person per month to nearly 80 crore beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY).
The decision will help safeguard the nutritional levels of children and aid in protecting their immunity during the challenging pandemic times.
The central government will provide additional funds of about Rs 1200 crore to state governments and UT administrations for this purpose. This one-time special welfare measure of the union government will benefit about 11.8 crore children studying in class 1 to 8 in the 11.20 lakh government and government aided schools across the country.
Apart from the central government, many state governments are also working to improve the nutritional levels of the children. As per the data released by government, 13 states are distributing free grains under PMGKAY. The ministry said that out of a total monthly allocation of 39.69 lakh metric tonnes (MT) under the PMGKAY, 15.55 lakh MT have been lifted by states and 1.01 lakh MT have been distributed to 2.03 crore beneficiaries till May 10.
The figures were shared during a press conference, which was addressed by Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey through video conference.