No Mid-Day Meal without Aadhaar card in Maharashtra soon

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Soon, food provision under Mid-Day Meal scheme in western Indian state of Maharashtra will be linked with Aadhaar card. The implementation of this rule is due to start  from January 2023 as per government order. But a worrying report released by the state’s  education department says that there are atleast 59 lakh children who are facing Aadhaar card related issues.  

As per state-wide data, there are 23,313,762 children currently studying in government aided and non-aided schools in Maharashtra. Out of these, 1,955,515 (8 per cent) children do not have Aadhaar cards. Of the remaining 21,358,247 children who have Aadhaar enrolment, 4,001,250 (18 per cent) do not have a valid Aadhaar card.  

State education department officials said that there is no Aadhaar mandate for school admissions. But in order to avail the facilities, students will need to have valid Aadhaar registration.  

The Mid-Day Meal scheme is a school meal programme in India designed to improve nutritional standing of school-age children nationwide. The programme supplies free lunches on working days for children. And, this has been a major factor for enrollment in schools, especially in rural or tribal dominated areas.   

The decision to link Mid-Day scheme with Aadhaar has potential to influence several factors. Posts of teachers allotted to each school are based on number of enrolled students. The move will impact on the teacher recruitment calculations.

Secondly, students who do not have Aadhaar cards may not be able to avail benefits like Mid Day meal, provision of uniforms etc from January 2023.   

“During verification process, we found out that close to 1.9 million students do not have Aadhaar card. There are mistakes in particulars such as name, date of birth or gender etc on invalid Aadhaar cards. We have now given teachers deadline to get this fixed before December 20 this year so that every child can avail school benefits,” said an official from state education department. 

As per the report, districts like Pune, Thane and Mumbai have the maximum count of children without Aadhaar cards.   

The respective schools have time till December 12 this year to complete Aadhaar updation on the portal.  

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