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Chandigarh. Punjab Finance Minister Advocate Harpal Singh Cheema, during a meeting with the representatives of mid-day meal cooks' unions here today, directed the School Education Department to form a committee comprising officials of the Education and Finance Departments, and representatives of the unions to study the various aspects related to the salary of the mid-day meal cooks, and represent a report so that a decision to increase their salaries could be taken at the earliest.

During this meeting held in a pleasant atmosphere, Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema discussed in detail the demands raised by the mid-day meal cook unions. The Finance Minister also directed the School Education Department to chalk out an insurance policy in consultation with banks or insurance companies that can provide both health and life insurance to the mid-day meal cooks.

The Finance Minister further directed the Education Department to issue guidelines to the School Management Committees regarding hiring cooks for mid-day meals. He said that in these guidelines' priority should be given to the cooks who have previous work experience under this scheme. He said that this will directly benefit those mid-day meal cooks who have to change schools due to marriage or for any other relevant reason. He said that the School Education Department should also write to the Election Commission to ensure that the payment is made directly to their accounts in case the services of mid-day meal cooks are being availed during the elections.

In order to resolve the problems being faced in preparing the mid-day meal in case the cook goes on leave, the Finance Minister directed the Education Department to explore the possibilities of making arrangements from the funds available with the school committees to hire cooks on daily basis in such a situation. He said that the department should also take necessary action at the earliest to arrange aprons, caps, gloves etc. for these cooks.

Secretary, School Education Kamal Kishore Yadav, Special Secretary-cum-Director General, School Education Vinay Bublani, and leaders of various mid-day meal cook unions including Karamchand Chindalia, Sukhdev Ram Sharma Gholia, Harjinder Kaur, Praveen Sharma, Praveen Bala and Lakhwinder Kaur were present in the meeting.



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