The State government has turned down NGOs’ demand to increase its contribution to the Ksheera Bhagya scheme and in turn, even questioned their role in the scheme.
Of the 93 NGOs associated with Ksheera Bhagya, Adhamya Chetana and Akshaya Patra Foundation are the two major organisations.
They recently submitted a proposal to officials of the mid-day meal programme demanding the government to enhance the subsidy given to them to supply milk to schools under the scheme.
“The issue was discussed in the recent meeting of senior officials of the Education Department. Some officials questioned the contribution of the NGOs to the scheme,” an official of the implementation section of the mid-day meal programme told Express. The Additional Chief Secretary noted the same on the file.
As per documents available with Express, the two NGOs proposed that the government increase the subsidy from the existing 59 paise per student per day to `1.
According to mid-day meal officials, the NGOs associated with Ksheera Bhagya scheme prepare milk from the milk powder supplied by the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) and supply it to schools.
“The milk powder is supplied by the government and they use sugar and water to prepare the milk. The major work they do is transportation,” an official said.
Milk Route: KMF to Schools
The KMF supplies milk powder required for a month under the Ksheera Bhagya scheme. The NGOs assigned the task of supplying milk have been directed to mix 18 gm of milk powder per day per child with 100 ml of water and 10 gm of sugar to prepare milk. For children in classes 1 to 10, the government supplies full cream milk.
However, the NGOs are directed to supply the milk at hot/room temperature at prayer hour.
Due to the distance involved, the government had asked schools in some districts like Bellary, Mangalore and Ramnagara to prepare the milk on the school premises.
The children are provided milk thrice a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The scheme is implemented at 55,113 government and aided schools across the state.
NGOs Not to be Discouraged
The Akshaya Patra Foundation admitted that it submitted a representation and said, “We tried to communicate to the government that the subsidy we get is less. We cannot refuse our role if they reject the proposal as the scheme is for the benefit of students.”
Vinay N Kumar, General Manager (Operations) of the Foundation said, “The government subsidy is very less. We are spending around `1.15-1.20 per child but get juts 59 paise. We have a centralised kitchen and we need to prepare the milk and supply it. The transportation costs us more.”
Akshaya Patra covers 2.5 lakh children in Bangalore and Hubli. Tejaswini Ananthkumar, Managing Trustee of Adhamya Chetana said, “We are spending 40 paise per child on sugar alone and for water, we calculate an additional 10 paise. We are not considering the labour cost, but for essentials used to boil water and transportation, we spend around `1.2 per child. Even if the government officials are not ready to increase the subsidy, we are not contractors and we will not give up the job. We love working with children.”