Monday, August 5, 2013

Ksheera Bhagya: Complete food, incomplete coverage

Students from a Government school in Gandhinagar
drinking free milk under a scheme that was launched
throughout the state in Mangalore. Photo: R.Eswarraj
The Hindu: Though the district administration launched ‘Ksheera Bhagya’, the milk distribution scheme for students with much fanfare on Thursday, as many as 149 government schools in Mangalore taluk will be unable to reap its benefits, at least for the time being.
The government has placed the responsibility of the scheme in the district with ISKCON’s Akshaya Patra Foundation, which is supplying mid-day meals to these schools. The government offered 59 paise per child to the Foundation and Rs. 100 as special incentive to cooks for supplying milk. The Foundation has sought two months’ time to organise the project. Similar request has been made to other non-government organisations providing mid-day meal to students.
“It is a question of supplying 3,000 litres of milk per day. There is a lot of logistical issues involved. We have sought a time of two months,” said Foundation’s General Manager in Mangalore Nandanacharya Das. The Foundation has been providing mid-day meals in Mangalore for over seven years.
Why doesn’t the administration arrange to send milk powder to schools until ISKCON can kick off? Dakshina Kannada Milk Producers Union (DKMUL) Managing Director B.K. Satyanarayana said this is because the schools did not have the infrastructure to prepare milk from powder.
The Foundation has been asked to provide milk in as many as 2,210 schools in Bangalore, Hubli, Bellary and Mysore. “It is the question of distributing 65,000 litres of milk per day,” said Vinay Kumar, Manager of the Foundation’s operations in Bangalore and Hubli. As many as 1,550 schools are covered in Bangalore and Hubli. The Foundation does not have the necessary infrastructure to heat the milk, cool it, fill it and transport it to schools. “It is a sensitive task and involves investments for which clearances have to be taken,” he said. Mr. Kumar said if the Foundation is not ready it would suggest ways of reaching milk to the children.
Education Officer of Akshara Dasoha Scheme K.L. Manjula said the exact number of schools that have received milk powder will be available on Friday.

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