ROURKELA: For around 50,000 students residing in the hostels of ST & SC Development department in Sundargarh district, the food on their plates seems to be shrinking, thanks to the rising prices. With a paltry Rs 24 working out for per capita diet in many hostels, the authorities are trying hard not to compromise with breakfast as well as evening snacks.
The State government provides Rs 750 to each Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste student towards mess expenditure per month as pre-matric scholarship. The diet cost was last revised on July 4, 2015 and since then, prices of food commodities have skyrocketed. With food inflation not relenting, the authorities of many hostels are reportedly skipping breakfast and evening snacks and also compromising on food quality and quantity completely out of compulsion.
In fact, the monthly diet cost is actually Rs 724 as Rs 26 out of the total Rs 750 is earmarked for miscellaneous, TV/DTH and sanitation expenditure. For lunch and dinner of each student, Rs 15 is earmarked for subsidised rice, Rs 400 for pulses, vegetables, edible oil, salt, spices and condiments besides Rs 10 for eggs twice a month. Keeping the price of fish/chicken at Rs 140 per kg, Rs 84 is fixed for providing these non-vegetarian items four times a month. For breakfast and evening tiffin, Rs 150 is earmarked.
School authorities point out that the prevailing fish/chicken prices are Rs 200/Rs 240 per kg. The government has fixed Rs 65 for fuel but in reality, after gradual removal of subsidy, the cooking gas price has almost doubled. They say edible oil, vegetables and other items too have become dearer. Further, the diet cost of both a 16-year-old Class X student and a six-year-old Class I student has been fixed at Rs 24 per day, ignoring food intake capacity and needs of a child and an adolescent.
Sources say the hostel students of Odisha Adarsha Vidyalaya and Eklavya Model Schools are better placed than their counterparts in ST & SC Development department hostels. The former receive between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,500 per month.
CPM MLA from Bonai Laxman Munda said Sundargarh is a tribal-dominated district with a sizable SC population. The hostel students under ST & SC Development department deserve a fair deal considering the prevailing general and food price rise scenario. The State government should seriously consider upward revision of the scholarship to meet dietary needs of poor students, he added.
Contacted, district welfare officer (DWO) Pabitra Mohan Pradhan said the pre-matric scholarship for ST & SC students is provided from the State plan. He claimed that revision of the scholarship is under active consideration of the government.
- Rs 750 provided to each ST&SC student towards mess expenditure per month
- Rs 26 of Rs 750 earmarked for miscellaneous expenditure
- Rs 15 for subsidised rice, Rs 400 for pulses, vegetables, oil for lunch and dinner of each student in a month
- Rs 150 earmarked for breakfast and evening tiffin
- Rs 10 for eggs twice a month
- Rs 84 for providing fish/chicken four times in a month