The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sent a notice to Uttar Pradesh chief secretary after taking cognisance of reports that children of a government-run primary school in Mirzapur were served rotis and salt for their midday meal.
According to a NHRC statement, the commission has sought a detailed report about the status of the midday meal scheme across the state within four weeks.
A video of children being served rotis and salt in their midday meal at Siyur Primary School under Jamalpur block of Mirzapur has gone viral on social media. The clip purportedly shows a woman distributing rotis and another woman giving salt to children as the midday meal.
Authorities have suspended two teachers, apparently in an immediate damage-control exercise.
The statement said, "The commission has issued a notice to the chief secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh, calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks."
"The commission would like to know about the status of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme across the state in case of government and government-assisted primary schools and about the quality of food and the food items normally being provided to the children according to the midday meal scheme from the state government."
Observing that the contents of the media reports were "shocking and disgraceful", the panel said that apparently children are not getting nutritious food despite the midday meal scheme.
"It is the duty of the teacher of a government school to follow the midday meal scheme in letter and spirit instead of indulging in poor practice of not providing nutritious food according to the scheme," the statement said.
The panel further observed that the Supreme Court had in 2001 passed an order stating that a prepared midday meal with a minimum content of 300 calories and 8-12 grams of protein each day for a minimum of 200 days is a basic entitlement of every child in every government and government-assisted primary school.
"The Centre in consonance with the objectives set forth by the Supreme Court has designed to improve the school meal programme under the midday meal scheme by providing nutritious food to school-age children nationwide. A majority of the population in India is still unable to get at least one square meal a day," the statement said.