New Delhi, July 18 - The union government has decided to form a new committee to look into the quality of food being provided under the mid-day meal scheme, Human Resource Development Minister M.M. Pallam Raju said Thursday.
We have decided to form a committee which will be looking into qualitative aspect of the programme -- the quality of food that is supplied, the effectiveness of supply chain and hygiene of the place where it is cooked, Raju told reporters here.
What has happened is a very sad incident and we are pained by the deaths of 23 young children and I think the focus should be to see that it doesn't occur again, Raju said.
He was referring to the children who died after eating contaminated meal Tuesday at their school in Bihar's Saran district.
The minister said the time has come to strengthen the programme further so that it is implemented in a better manner.
He said action will be taken against those responsible for the incident in Bihar.
Responsibility will be pinned on what has gone wrong and who is responsible for it. But having said that, mid-day meal is an important and integral part of schooling system which gives minimum nutrients to our children, he said.
And all efforts should be made that the scheme is strengthened and implemented well... So that should be the focus and not a blame game, he said.
The minister said there is mid-day meal vigilance and monitoring committee that meets twice a year and if it finds any shortcomings it warns the respective states.
He said the committee issued an alert about poor quality of mid-day meal provided in some of the schools in Bihar.
Bihar was alerted about unsatisfactory food quality served in government schools in 12 districts and Saran district was one of the worst affected, he said.
On the progress of investigation into the case, Raju said: We haven't got the forensic report and things will be cleared after the report.
The national mid-day meal scheme is the world's largest school feeding programme reaching out to some 12 crore children in 12.65 lakh schools and education centres across India.