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No milk in schools since Jan, attendance dips in Karnataka

Children of government and aided schools have not been receiving milk under the Ksheera Bhagya scheme in 11 districts of the state for the past three months.

According to data available with DH, a majority of the districts where milk supply to schools has stopped are in the backward Kalyana Karnataka region. Of the 11 districts hit, zero milk supply has been recorded in six since January.

This has impacted attendance.

According to officials from the Department of School Education and Literacy, despite stoppage of milk supply for the past three months, the School Development and Monitoring Committees (SDMC) have failed to alert the authorities.

According to department officials, milk supply was hit because the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) allegedly diverted the milk powder meant for schools to manufacture sweets, ice creams and other products under the Nandini brand.

However, following complaints from some teachers, the department informed the government and at a recent meeting, Chief Secretary Vandita Sharma warned KMF that it must supply milk powder to schools on priority citing an agreement it has with the government.

Meanwhile, considering KMF’s demand to increase the price paid for milk powder, the government hiked it from Rs 275 a kg plus GST to Rs 300 per kg plus GST.

Denying the diversion of powder meant for schools, KMF officials said there is a shortage of milk procurement at the local level due to various reasons. “Of the 15-18 lakh litres per day, we are able to supply only 13-14 lakh litres. South Karnataka is a major source of milk, which also has a shortage,” said an official.

Confirming the shortage, Commissioner for School Education Dr Vishal R said, “Even after the increase in price, supply is not up to our expectations. We are also trying to manage it at the local level and KMF is also doing its bit.”

B C Satish, managing director of KMF said, “Till February, we were able to meet 70% of the demand and now there is also an increase in milk procurement by 2 lakh litres. We are almost reaching our commitment to schools.”

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