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Dining room row: WB govt says facilities to be used by all

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Press Trust of India Kolkata
Under opposition fire over a circular about constructing dining halls in state-run schools with more than 70 per cent minority students, the West Bengal government Friday clarified that the facilities were meant to be used by all without any discrimination.
The official statement described the directive by Cooch Behar Minority Affairs department on June 25 as "distorted and wholly untrue".
"This is in reference to some distorted and wholly untrue stories on social media on the alleged instruction of state government to provide mid-day meal dining halls for only those schools having 70 per cent or more minority students," the statement by the West Bengal department of Minority Affairs and Madrasah Education, said.
It said, in order to implement the mid-day meal scheme successfully, and to create the related infrastructure such as hygienic cooking shed and dining hall in state-run schools, the state government pools funds from the budgets of various education-related departments.
This year, the state's school education department has allocated approximately Rs 200 crore for construction of dining halls under the mid-day meal scheme to cover 4,647 primary, and 1,524 upper primary schools, it added.
"However, there is still a huge demand for dining halls under mid-day meal in schools and this is why the minority affairs and madrasah education department sanctions funds to eligible state-run schools for construction of cooking shed and dining halls," it said.
Similarly, for schools with substantial number of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe students, the critical gap funding is provided for by the backward classes welfare department. However, the assets and facilities so created are open to all, irrespective of which community they belong to.
"...similar critical gap funding for, inter alia, infrastructure development of schools in areas with more that 25 per cent minority population is also provided by the GOI's Ministry of Minority Affairs," the statement said, adding the issue of such dovetailing of funds needs to be seen in the "right context".

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First Published: Jun 28 2019 | 8:05 PM IST

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