Milk supply scheme delayed as modalities yet to be finalised

Around 60 lakh schoolchildren in the State who have been eagerly waiting for their quota of milk will have to wait a few more weeks. The school milk scheme, which was to take off on Monday, has been delayed.

Confirming the delay, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Kimmane Ratnakar told The Hindu that the State government was yet to finalise the nitty-gritty of the project.

Sources in the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), which is to spearhead the scheme, said the government was yet to finalise the number of schools covered under this scheme, besides deciding on the mode of distribution. “The government is contemplating whether the milk should be supplied to students up to class 7 or 10. Moreover, the quantity of milk to be supplied, 150 ml or 200 ml, has not yet been decided,” a source said. There are also questions about the cost of the scheme and about which department — Primary and Secondary Education or Animal Husbandry — the government will provide budgetary support to for implementing the scheme.

“Milk has a low shelf life. We still need to discuss how to transport the milk to different parts of the State,” Mr. Ratnakar admitted.

How it works

The KMF proposes to implement a number of different systems to best tackle project cost and distribution challenges. While one type of distribution involves supplying fresh milk in villages where milk cooperative societies are active, the federation proposes to distribute pasteurised milk to villages that do not have these societies. Milk could be supplied in brick packs to some places, even as people in remote villages would get whole skimmed milk powder (with fat).

The 13 milk unions in the State had carried out a survey to understand what method of distribution would be most effective in their regions, the source said.

The distribution logistics had to be reworked as KMF had initially proposed supplying milk in brick packs to check adulteration. But, the government had opined that the packaging costs would be high.

Minister for Animal Husbandry, Law and Parliamentary Affairs T.B. Jayachandra had announced last month that providing milk to students would help tackle malnutrition.

While one round of talks with the Chief Minister is over, KMF officials are expected to hold another round of discussions with him on Monday.