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Govt mulling using Asha, NSS workers, lab testing of food

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Engaging 'Asha' workers and youth organisations such as NSS for effective monitoring of mid-day meal programme could well be on cards as the government, stung by last month's mid-day meal tragedy which left 23 children dead, reviews its implementation.

Utilising the services of over eight lakh Asha workers and the strength of the as National Service Scheme (NSS) was suggested at a consultative meeting on mid-day meal here.

Top officials of Food Security and Standard Authority of also suggested putting their 300 accredited labs across the country to good use for testing foods.

The meeting held yesterday was chaired by where Health secretary K Desiraju suggested that a mechanism should be explored to utilise over eight lakh Asha workers in villages to get their support for monitoring the quality and hygiene of the meal, sources said.

Bihar's Education Minister P K Shahi remained absent from the meeting along with the education ministers of couple of other states who were invited to attend the meeting.

Shahi is understood to be upset with the Ministry over release of funds under some components of the scheme.

Officials of the authority suggested that their resources could be utilised at the district level for maintenance of quality, hygiene and safety.

Voluntary organisations like Akshya Patra and Naik Foundation offered to train cooks on the vital issues affecting the scheme.

Officials from Health and Family Welfare, Rural Development, Tribal Affairs, Youth Affairs, Minorities Affairs, Drinking and Water and Sanitation Ministries attended the meeting.

Participating in the meeting, the Supreme Court appointed commissioner N C Saxena said that the main problem is about supply chain which includes poor quality of grains given by the Food Corporation of and late payments to the school management committee.

He said the cooks do not get salaries in time for months and kids were being deprived of vegetables in their meals, sources said.

First Published: Thu, August 01 2013. 21:15 IST