This was stated by the Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Dr. Shashi Tharoor on outsourcing the flagship programme to sundry NGOs for supplying mid-day meal in schools in the Rajya Sabha.
He said that the Mid-Day Meal Guidelines emphasize the promotion of school-based cooking in kitchens-cum-stores in the school with the help of cooks-cum-helpers through local Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI's), Self-Help Group (SHGs), Mothers' organizations and the Local Community.
The total number of NGOs engaged in the current year 2013-2014 in this programme in the country is 447. The maximum number of NGOs working for this programme are in UP followed by Karnataka with a total of 185 and 102 respectively.
In a reply to another question regarding the details of criteria fixed by the Government for engaging NGOs under this programme he said that the Mid-Day Meal Guidelines have laid down the following criteria for engaging NGOs:
- The decision to award the supply work to an NGO will be taken by a body empowered by the state Government, e.g. the Gram Panchayat, VEC/SMC/PTA, Municipal Committee/Corporation, etc.
- The agency should be a body registered under the Societies Act or the Public Trust Act, and should have been in existence for a minimum period of two years. It should have a properly constituted Managing/Governing Body with its powers and duties clearly defined in its constitution.
- A contract/MoU between the NGO and the local authority responsible for engaging the NGOs shall be signed to define the liabilities of the parties and the consequence of non performance on their parts. It should also include a stringent mechanism to check and supervise the quality and quantity of meal supplied by the NGO to the children.
- The chosen supplier shall supply the mid-day meal on a non-profit basis and shall not entrust/sub-contract the programme or divert any part of the assistance.
- The performance of such NGOs engaged in serving MDMS to children should be assessed every year through a credible system of evaluation. The renewal of the MoU with a NGO for the next year should depend on its performance being found satisfactory in the current year.
On the details of cases where the norms were flouted by NGOs in providing meals, Dr Shashi Tharoor said that six complaints of violation of MDM norms by NGO have come to the notice of MHRD. These complaints were referred to the respective states for investigation and report. In four of these cases, the State Governments have made proportionate recoveries from the bills of the concerned NGOs.