Children studying under the RTE quota in various schools across Karnataka may soon get to enjoy chocolate-flavoured milk, five days a week, under the Ksheera Bhagya scheme.
According to TOI, the Karnataka Milk Federation had recently introduced three varieties of flavoured milk in a few schools in Belagavi and other districts on a pilot basis. KMF had found that most students preferred chocolate-flavoured milk. The KMF is now gearing up to supply flavoured milk powder to schools across Karnataka from June onwards.
According to CP Reddy, PRO of KMF, the beneficiaries of the Ksheera Bhagya have put forth repeated demands for the government to provide them with flavoured milk. ‚ÄúStudents refuse to drink the milk as it is milk powder mixed with water and the water content is too high. Several parents had also lodged complaints with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah regarding the milk quality,‚ÄĚ he told The News Minute.
TOI reports that many complaints of illegalities in milk powder distribution where officials and teachers allegedly diverted or sold unused powder in open market, have also surfaced.
Taking these aspects into consideration, the Karnataka government had requested the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) to produce three different flavours of milk powder - chocolate, vanilla and almond.
However, the government is still mulling over distributing chocolate-flavoured milk as it would cost more. Currently, the government spends Rs 510 crore annually to provide milk thrice a week to 39 lakh anganwadi children and 62 lakh students in government and aided schools.
As the government is planning to extend the scheme for five days a week, it will require an additional Rs 300 crore just to supply regular milk powder. An extra Rs 50 crore will be required for chocolate flavoured milk. This financial commitment is why the government is delaying the implementation of the scheme, the TOI report added.
On the brighter side, several legislators, including some senior ministers, have been rooting for flavoured milk for school children.
According to Tourism Minister Priyank Kharge, it would be good if children are given chocolate-flavoured milk. Additional chief secretary to Karnataka government K Ratna Prabha too endorsed the supply of flavoured milk, the report states.