The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved continuation of the 'National Scheme for PM POSHAN in Schools' for five years from 2021-22 to 2025-26 at a cost of over Rs 1.30 lakh crore.
The scheme will have a financial outlay of Rs 54,061.73 crore from the Centre and Rs 31,733.17 crore from state governments and union territory (UT) administrations. The Centre will also bear an additional cost of about Rs 45,000 crore on food grains, taking the total budget of the scheme to Rs 1,30,794.90 crore.
Replying to a question while briefing the media on Cabinet decisions after the meeting, Union Minister Anurag Thakur said the scheme will subsume the existing Mid Day Meal Scheme.
PM POSHAN is a centrally-sponsored scheme which covers all school children studying in classes 1 to 8 of government and government-aided schools, providing them one hot-cooked meal.
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It covers about 11.80 crore children studying in 11.20 lakh schools across the country. During 2020-21, the Centre spent more than Rs 24,400 crore on the scheme, including cost of about Rs 11,500 crore of food grains. "The earlier name of the scheme was 'National Scheme for Mid Day Meal in Schools' popularly known as Mid Day Meal Scheme," a release from the government said.
The government has also decided to extended the scheme to students studying in pre-primary or Bal Vatikas of government and government-aided primary schools. Besides, the government said the concept of 'Tithi Bhojan', a community participation programme in which people provide special food to children on special occasions/ festivals, will be encouraged extensively.
Special provision has been made for providing supplementary nutrition items to children in aspirational districts and districts with high prevalence of anemia under the scheme, while social audit of the scheme has been made mandatory in all the districts.
"Involvement of Farmers Producer Organisations (FPO) and women self-help groups in implementation of the scheme will be encouraged. Use of locally grown traditional food items for a fillip to local economic growth will be encouraged," the release said.
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