Midday Meal Scheme started in 1960's involves provision of free lunch in weekdays in government schools. This programme started from Tamil Nadu in 1960's soon spread to other states and after 2001 Supreme Court court verdict it became mandatory for state governments to provide free meals to all students. Apart from protecting students from hunger this scheme also helps in increasing school enrollment and attendance,it improved socialization among children belonging to different castes,reduced malnutrition and empowered women by providing them employment.
Right since the Midday meal scheme gets widespread acceptance in all parts of India,it's misuse also started. Many schools in order to take extra ration show more students in their attendance register than actually enrolled and than sold extra ration in open market, grain distribution system for midday meal is full of corruption. In many schools lower castes students are devoid of midday meals by members of upper castes, in many places grains used for food is stale which leads to food poisoning and many other such ailments,food is prepared in unhygienic conditions which again leads to many diseases. Many such incidents happened and were reported by local residents to concerned authorities but in vein.
Recently on 16th July 2013,20 children died and many are still in hospital due to food poisoning after eating midday meal in Bihar's Saran district. Why authorities came in action only after such incidents? There are schemes,there are laws but there is no authority to ensure proper functioning of such schemes and to implement the laws. Midday meal scheme which is an effort to reduce deaths caused by malnutrition is in it's self becoming deadly. Only harsher punishments to those responsible in it can make people associated with this more accountable.