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Mid-day meal cooks’ plight

SHILLONG: Mid-day meal cooks in Garo Hills, who cater to the needs of children studying in lower and upper primary schools, earn a meager Rs 1000 per month. To add to this, their salary is irregular and not credited directly to their bank accounts.
The plight of the mid-day meal cooks was brought to the notice of the House on Friday by Independent MLA, John Leslee Sangma.
“These cook-cum-helpers have to serve as chowkidars and  sweepers,” he said adding that the Government should review and address the irregularities in their salaries which currently depend “on the whims and fancies of the people at the helm of affairs.”
In a written reply on the issue, Education Minister RC Laloo assured that he will take up the matter of increase in the salary of the cooks with the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
“The Government of India is already contemplating to increase the monthly honorarium to cook-cum-helpers from (the current) Rs 1000 to Rs 2000 during the financial year 2016-17,” he added.
“A separate provision for payment of honorarium to cooks-cum-helpers at Rs 1000 per month has been made. One cook-cum-helper can be engaged in a school having up to 25 students, 2 cook-cum-helpers for schools having 26-100 students and 1 additional cook-cum-helper for every addition of up to 100 students,” he informed
He added that the expenditure towards the honorarium of cook-cum-helpers is shared between the Centre and the State in the ratio of 90:10. Laloo also informed that the Rs 1000 honorarium to cook-cum- helper was fixed by the Centre and was the same in most other states.
Laloo added that frequent change of cook-cum-helpers made it difficult to attach their salary to bank accounts.
“The honorarium is being paid through e-transfer to the accounts of the schools which in turn is being paid to the cook-cum-helpers by the School Managing Committee,” he informed.
“Honorariums have been paid till November 2015 and every effort is made to ensure the money is paid every month,” Laloo said.
It may be mentioned that mid-day meal cooks in Garo Hills had recently approached the West Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner seeking his intervention on problems relating to their salaries.

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