New Delhi: Using Aadhaar for authentication, three states have discovered 272,000 fake students who were availing of the mid-day meal (MDM) scheme.
In February 2017, the human resource development (HRD) ministry decided to link Aadhaar and MDM for better monitoring of the school meal programme and reduce pilferage. These three states have reported to the that they had discovered the bogus students in the process and deleted their names from the enrolment rolls.
As per ministry data, reviewed by Mint, Andhra Pradesh has deleted the names of over 215,000 students after Aadhaar authentication. Arunachal Pradesh has screened and deleted 42,414 students and Manipur nearly 14,000 students.
An HRD ministry official, who declined to be named, said more such cases will come up in next few months from states as the Aadhaar authentication progresses. While it will reduce the overall students in schools the country by de-duplicating enrolments, it will allow the governments at the centre and the states to save on MDM costs.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and hope Aadhaar authentication will give us a better picture of MDM,” said Anil Swarup, secretary of school education in the HRD ministry.
At least 100 million elementary students studying in 1.5 million schools are now benefiting from the scheme that deploys 2.53 million part time workers for its implementations. In 2017-18, the central government has allocated Rs10,000 crore for the scheme.
The deadline for linking Aadhaar with MDM is 31 August. However, at least a dozen states, the first HRD ministry official said, are lagging behind the required progress on this.