The group was prompted to make the plea because of the rising incidence of malnutrition among children from marginalised socio-economic backgrounds.

milk given to school children in Karnataka
news Health Tuesday, December 01, 2020 - 20:32

Seventy-seven nutritionists, doctors, lawyers, activists and citizens have jointly written to the Karnataka government asking it to resume the provision of milk/milk powder to the pupils of government/government aided schools under the Ksheera Bhagya scheme. 

The group was prompted to make the plea because of the rising incidents of malnutrition among children — who majorly belong to economically and socially marginalized communities like Dalit, Adivasi and Other Backward Classes — due to the complete shutdown of supply of milk/milk powder due to the pandemic-induced closure of schools.

The only way nutritious meals were accessible to them was through the mid-day meal and Ksheera Bhagya schemes, the group said in their plea to the Chief Minister Yediyurappa. The reason behind halting the scheme was a note by the Finance Department, the letter to the CM states. The note had reportedly stated that under the Public Distribution System and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, ration was being supplied already.

“The above note overlooks the fact that milk is not being provided under either the PDS system or under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana. Several media reports show that ‘sufficient ration’ is not at all being provided to many families and even those who have received rations, have only received cereal, specifically, rice. Additionally, these two schemes can be accessed by only those having BPL cards while Ksheera Bhagya covers children of several families who do not have BPL cards,” the letter adds.

“If the worsening situation of child malnutrition is not addressed immediately, it could even reverse the limited progress made in the last few years by us towards a malnutrition-free Karnataka. Hence, in the interest of children studying in government-run and government-aided schools, we urge you to ensure that milk/milk powder should be provided to the school-children under the Ksheera Bhagya scheme of the state government for all pending months since June and on a regular and prompt basis for the subsequent months till the opening of the schools,” the signatories have say in the letter.

The Ksheera Bhagya scheme was started in the year 2013-14, aimed at combating malnutrition in Karnataka. Although the government has resumed the supply of ration, the suspension of the five months might have already done the damage, fear public health experts. 

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