NALGONDA: Defeating the very aim of improving nutritional levels, mid-day meals cooked in fluoride-contaminated water are being dished out by SHGs in hundreds of schools and anganwadi centres in the district.
The Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme is being implemented in as many as 3,369 primary and high schools and 3,646 anganwadi centres in the district.
Needless to say, the children also have to drink water from borewells, knowing fully well the grim consequences — stunted growth and deformed limbs. But there is no other go as students spend such long hours at school and they can’t be expected to remain thirsty. As against 5-10 ppm in a litre of water, the fluoride percentage in the groundwater in Marriguda village in the district is around 28 ppm. And in the villages of Chandoor, Nampally, Narayanapur, Munugode, Gurrampode, Devarakonda and Narketpally mandals, it is 10 ppm, according to a study conducted by officials a few years ago. When contacted, many members of the self-help groups said funds released by the State Government were woefully inadequate — they did not even suffice for buying vegetables. Consequently, they were unable to afford Krishna water to prepare the meals for the students.
“If the State Government supplies safe drinking water, the main intention of implementing the MDM scheme can be realised,’’ Lakshmamma of Chandur mandal told Express.
For their part, officials of the School Education Department said the SHGs had been instructed to use Krishna water. “If they fail to do so, action will be initiated against them,’’ they added.
Officials of the Rural Water Scheme Department said they had provided Krishna water to 70 percent of the fluoride-affected villages and the remaining would be covered soon. “It is the responsibility of the gram panchayats to supply safe drinking water to the schools,’’they said.