New Delhi: Finding it difficult to complete the task in time, the union government has extended the deadline for linking the Aadhaar numbers of school children with the mid-day meal scheme by two months.
The move means that more than a 100 million school children would compulsorily need Aadhaar, the 12-digit unique identification number of India, to avail their mid-day meal from 1 September instead of the earlier deadline of 1 July.
Earlier, schools and states were directed to complete the task by 30 June so that the new plan, which the government thinks will reduce pilferage, can start from 1 July.
“In pursuance of the provisions of section 7 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, the Central Government in the Ministry of Human Resource Development hereby makes the following amendments in the notification number S.O. 669(E), dated the 28th February, 2017….In the said notification…for the figures, letters and word ‘30th June, 2017’, the figures, letters and word ‘31st August, 2017’ shall be substituted," said a gazette notification now available online.
In its 28 February notification, the human resource development ministry had said that individuals who want to avail the benefits under the mid-day-meal scheme are required to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo Aadhaar authentication.
At least 10.03 crore elementary students (Class 1-8) studying in 1.15 million schools are now benefiting from the mid-day meal scheme that deploys 2.53 million part-time workers for its implementation.
The mid-day meal or the school meal programme is a flagship central government scheme that aims to provide some amount of nutrition to students in government schools, special training centres and Madrasas supported under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Central and state governments share the financial burden in a 60:40 ratio in most states. The ratio is 90:10 for eight north-eastern states and three Himalayan states—Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir.
The mid-day meal scheme has been allocated Rs10, 000 crore in the 2017-18 union budget.