Days after making Aadhaar Card mandatory for availing mid-day meal, the government on Tuesday clarified that no one will be deprived of the benefits for lack of the identification card.
According to a Cabinet Secretariat statement, no one will be deprived of the benefits for lack of Aadhaar.
"The Government has reiterated that till Aadhaar number is assigned to any individual, the benefit will continue to be given based on alternate means of identification. It also directed the departments to provide Aadhaar enrolment facilities to their beneficiaries under Regulation 12 of Aadhaar (Enrolment and Update) Regulations 2016," it said.
"In case of Mid-Day Meal scheme and under the Integrated Child Development Scheme, the schools and Anganwadis have been asked to collect the Aadhaar number of the children beneficiaries and in case a child does not have Aadhaar, the school or ICDS functionary will be required to provide enrolment facilities to a child and till Aadhaar number is assigned, the benefits will be continue," it added.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development in a Gazette notification on February 28 had mandated Aadhaar for availing mid-day meal scheme.
"Individuals desirous of availing the benefits under the Scheme offered at the Schools are required to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo Aadhaar authentication.
"Any individual desirous of availing the benefit under the Scheme offered at the Schools, who does not possess an Aadhaar number or has not yet enrolled for Aadhaar shall have to apply for Aadhaar enrolment by June 30, 2017 provided he or she is entitled to obtain Aadhaar as per the provisions of Section 3 of the said Act," the notification said.
The move to mandate Aadhaar Card for the midday meals evoked strong criticism from opposition parties including the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxist besides right activists.
The Mid-day Meal is a central government-sponsored scheme aimed at improving nutritional status of school-age children nationwide. Under it, free lunches are given to children in primary and upper primary classes in government and government-aided schools.
According to the government, Aadhaar has been given to more than 112 crore people.