KOCHI: According to the Annual Work Plan and Budget 2017-18, only 26.6% of the schools serving midday-meals in government and aided institutions are cooking meals using LPG cylinders while the remaining 83.4 % schools use firewood.
One of the suggestions at the work plan was to mobilize a special fund to enable all schools to migrate from firewood to LPG in order to reduce the carbon emission and improve the quality of air at school. Though nutritionist suggested that firewood does not affect the nutritional value of food, it does affect the quality of air negatively .
“Firewood is not an efficient source of fuel. It produces large amounts of carbon monoxide which can be harmful to people in the vicinity . It is advisable for people to use more modern methods such as LPG,” said environmentalist S Sitaraman, who is the president of the All Kerala River Protection Council.
The state government in 2016, had revised the cooking cost so that schools can migrate from firewood to LPG.Now, 2,546 schools in the state have been given Rs 5,000 each to procure stoves and LPG connections. State officials suggested that at least 10% of all the chefs – working as cook-cum-helpers – are aged over 50 and hence more susceptible to falling ill under present working conditions.
Director of public instructions (DPI) K V Mohankumar said that 45% of the government and aided schools were able to procure LPG facility due to the contributions from MLA, PTA and the local selfgovernment funds.
He said that more schools will soon migrate to LPG model and that this migration will be taken into account while introducing more kitchen-cum-store units next year.In 2017-18, the state submitted a proposal for the construction of 3,031 kitchencumstore unit. An amount of Rs 18,326 lakh was approved for the purpose.
The central government will contribute Rs 10,995.6 lakh and state would contribute the rest (Rs 7,330.40 lakh). Due to financial constraints, state and central governments could not release their respective shares in 2016. The DPI suggested that all money for the kitchencumstore unit will be made available this year.