Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 21
Just about eight months after the Punjab and Haryana High Court prescribed substitution of mid-day meal with wholesome food, including milk, bananas and eggs, to better the nutritional standing of schoolchildren, Punjab Education Minister has approved menu entailing a total cost of Rs 118.3 crore.
As the case revolving around empowerment of women and poor came up for resumed hearing, information to this effect was furnished before the Justice Ritu Bahri’s Bench by way of a reply on behalf of Punjab Director, Public Instructions (Elementary Education), and a detailed report by the District Education Officer.
Among other things, it said the introduction of milk, banana and egg for the primary and upper primary classes had already been considered and discussed with Chairman, Punjab State Food Commission. “This matter is to be reviewed and decided again at the level of the Chief Secretary. It is under the active consideration of the state government,” the Bench was told.
Bridging the gap between the urban and rural areas, Justice Bahri, during the course of hearing, reiterated directions to the states of Punjab, Haryana and UT, Chandigarh, to make efforts to take children from the cities to village schools for interaction and exchange of books, sweets and, snacks.
Justice Bahri also fixed the case for further hearing in September third week for enabling the states to “get relevant decisions for providing better food facilities for the children, women as well as senior citizens as per the National Food Security Act, 2013”.
Calling for the creation of job opportunities at village level, Justice Bahri added the main object of initiating suo motu proceedings was to ensure the empowerment of women and children belonging to the weaker sections of society leading a miserable and deprived life.
“The women, after giving birth to children, were not being granted adequate opportunity to earn even a small livelihood. They have expressed their willingness to work. But, keeping in view their family circumstances, they cannot go to the cities. To make it convenient, work has to be provided at the village level itself so that they can lead happy and stress fee life. To fulfil this purpose, association of youths, students and (those involved in) corporate social responsibility was being sought,” Justice Bahri added.