The midday meal served to them by NGOs on Monday was not eaten by thousands of school students in Silchar, protesting against what they said was their poor quality. Students and teachers also said the food was served in several schools about two hours late. Although midday meals are usually provided by the government, the duty has now been assigned to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) since 1 November in Assam. Protests from midday meal workers met the shift, and some of them vandalized an NGO's food truck at Ram Nagar in Silchar on Monday after 15 days of protests.
It was well past the recess when a vehicle with the food reached DNNK School. The quality of the food was so poor, according to the teachers; and so, they refused to serve it to the students.
School authorities said: “The quality of the food is so poor that our teachers are not ready to taste it before we allow our students to have it. The vehicle arrived after 2.30 pm, when it was supposed to reach us at noon.”
Paritosh Dey, The principal of the school, also questioned the food quantity. Adding to his comments, he said -- “We have more than 300 students studying in the school but the quantity they sent could only be served to 50. The quality was such that we refused to serve it to our students.”
Some students complained saying, “We cannot eat this food, it smells bad and we suspect it was cooked last night.”
That’s not all. The food delivery was so late that by the time it was delivered, it was time for students to go home. An angry guardian said, “The potato curry had a foul smell while the daal was just turmeric with water. The delivery boy had no clue what he was serving, he said his job is to deliver the food and not check the quality.”
Complaints came from the high school of Nursing, Netaji Vidyamandir Girls and others. No food was served in schools such as High School Malugram Girls, Ram Kumar Nandi Vidyalaya, and Abhyacharan Pathshala. Abhayacharan chief Pathshala said he bought cookies and served them as a midday meal for his students.
Deputy Commissioner of Cachar, Laya Madduri, said she had not received any complaint about the quality of food. “I am not sure about the poor quality of food but I have directed my food inspector to look into the matter. None of the schools or students have lodged an official complaint yet,” she said.
At Ram Nagar, where one NGO’s truck was vandalised, the agitating workers claimed what they threw away was “poor quality food”.
“The NGOs are serving bad food and we won’t allow them to do this. We don’t want to waste food, but we have to protest against their poor quality,” a worker said. The workers are supported by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
“We visited the place where these NGOs are cooking food. They are not maintaining hygiene. We had a food chart that included soya bean, eggs, and other nutritional items. But the NGOs are only providing rice, dal and aloo bharta (potato curry),” one worker complained.
Updated by: News Sources 2019-11-06 12:52 PM