Teething problems for Ksheera Bhagya scheme
By Sowmya Aji | ENS | Published: 31st August 2013 10:50 AM |
Nearly a month after the Ksheera Bhagya scheme was launched to give 150 ml of flavoured milk to government school students across the state, about 1.35 lakh students in the state capital have still not got their due.
The state government and the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) have been supplying milk in the form of whole milk powder to over 63 lakh students across the state, without many hitches. But the NGO, ISKCON, which runs the much praised Akshaya Patra midday meal scheme, has not been able to mix the powder with water and transport the milk to the children in Bangalore Urban. Unlike rural schools, the urban schools don’t have kitchens.
“The state government decided to hand over the supply of milk in big cities to NGOs that run the midday meal scheme. On our part, we are ready to supply the milk powder required, but the NGOs have to be ready to distribute it,’’ KMF additional director (marketing) Mrutyunjaya Kulkarni told Express.
NGO Adhamya Chetana, run by BJP MP Ananthkumar’s wife Tejaswini, has managed to supply the milk to children in Bangalore Urban from day 1, though supply in Gulbarga and Hubli got delayed. Supply in Gulbarga began about a week ago, while in Hubli, it is starting on Saturday.
“We faced severe logistic problems, particularly in Bangalore, as we have been asked to supply the milk during prayers in the morning. Given Bangalore’s traffic, by the time our vans supply milk to three schools, it would already be midday meal time at the fourth school. But somehow, we are managing despite the problems, because it is a very good scheme and the quality of the milk powder is extremely good. The children love it,’’ Tejaswini told Express.
But while Adhamya Chetana, which supplies 60,000 schoolchildren, has managed to make it work, ISKCON, which covers 1.6 lakh students in Bangalore Urban, Hubli-Dharwad and Bellary has been struggling. “We have started giving the milk to about 25,000 students, but we are facing logistic difficulties to distribute the milk to the rest. We are not equipped to deal with milk distribution, though we have kitchens for the midday meal scheme,’’ Vinay N Kumar, general manager (operations), Akshaya Patra, told Express.
KMF officials say that ISKCON has promised to extend the scheme from October 1 to all schoolchildren in Bangalore. Vinay Kumar said: “The milk scheme is very different from the midday meal scheme. We have no experience in distributing milk, and have to ensure there are no problems with safety or quality. We have asked the government for two to three months’ time (from August 1) to implement the scheme.’’
Commissioner for Public Instruction Mohammad Mohsin said the NGOs in the city have asked for a hike in the contingency charge from 0.59 paise to `1 a glass of milk.
“The proposal is before the government, but it is a valid requirement. It is likely to be approved soon.’’
Tejaswini said she had suggested a plan to chief secretary S V Ranganath as per which her organisation would give biomass stoves and vessels to at least big schools in the area that they cover, to make milk on the premises itself.
“It will remove the problem of transporting the milk and ensure the children get it in time. Our organisation will fund the stoves and vessels for 100 schools immediately,’’ she said, adding: “The CS has agreed to our idea.’’
(with inputs from Bharath Joshi)