Several students of Baruahola High School in Tinsukia district fell ill after eating midday meal recently Credit: EastMojo image

Tinsukia: The state government has ordered an inquiry into the supply of midday meals in schools through a centralised kitchen run by NGO and has put on hold the functioning of the centralised kitchen in the entire state.

The development comes close on the heels of several students of Baruahola High School in Tinsukia district falling ill after eating midday meals and amid widespread protests across the state demanding rollback of the decision of serving midday meals through the centralised kitchen. Two schools in Tinsukia district formally submitted a written complaint to the district elementary education officer (DEEO) “exposing” the poor quality of food being served.

According to sources, an order issued by mission director of Sarba Shiksha Abhijan and state nodal officer of midday meal scheme, Shamsher Singh, on November 10 reads, “I would like to inform you that the government of Assam has decided to conduct an inquiry on supply of mid-day meal in schools through centralized kitchens run by NGOs.”

“It is further decided that in view of the said inquiry, the functioning of centralised kitchen run by NGOs for providing mid-day meal in your district shall be put on hold w.e.f. 11.11.2019. It is also decided to provide mid-day meal to the children through the school kitchen as was done earlier until further order,” the letter read.

The letter has been addressed to deputy commissioner of all the district where the serving of midday meals through centralised kitchen by NGOs was rolled out and the principal secretary.

It is pertinent to mention that the state government was adamant to serve midday meals to children through centralised kitchen run by NGOs ignoring the massive protest in the first week of November.

According to sources, education minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya had said there will be no complaint on the quality of food. “However, complaints of the food was ‘sour’ and had ‘smell’ came pouring from several districts.”

On Saturday, national highways were blocked demanding roll back of the decision and resume earlier mode of providing midday meal to children.

On the condition of anonymity, a senior functionary of a district has suggested that the decision should be “rolled back”.

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