New Delhi [India], July 6 (ANI): The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday issued notice to Union HRD Ministry and Bihar government after taking suo moto cognisance of a media report that the poor children were not getting the mid-day meal due to extension of lockdown and closure of schools in the wake of COVID-19.
The news report pertained to Bhagalpur district in Bihar where an exercise was undertaken to understand the effects of the pandemic.
The commission called for a detailed report on the matter within four weeks.
The NHRC said that earlier the children were able to get roti, rice, vegetables, dal, soya and eggs in the mid-day meal which has now disappeared and the children "are not only starving but getting involved in petty dirty works".
"The people residing in these areas belong to below poverty line, who do garbage collection, begging or working for the contractors to collect waste. Their children, who could have some food in the schools, are now starving and suffering from malnutrition. On the other side, the District Magistrate has, reportedly, stated that the money is being sent to the account of children or their guardians in lieu of mid-day meal for the period when the schools are shut," the commission said.
NHRC observed that the schools were not functional due to COVID-19 and the mid-day meal has been stopped due to which poor children "are forced to indulge in small jobs which not only spoil their health but also push them towards petty crimes and other anti-social activities".
The children in this condition will be prone to drug addiction and trafficking by the criminal elements of the society, involved in illicit activities, NHRC said in its notice.
Meanwhile, Bihar Education Department has instructed senior district education officers to provide eight kg ration and Rs 358 to children studying in Class 1-5 and 12 kg ration and Rs 536 to students of Class 6-8 under mid-day meal scheme for May, June and July.
The state Education Department said the decision has been taken in view of the situation created by COVID-19 pandemic. (ANI)