Govt. to resume supply of rice, wheat to private institutions

Cabinet decision comes after Khader highlights issue

Published - February 05, 2020 12:23 am IST - Bengaluru

The State government has decided to continue midday meal scheme in 351 private schools, with students totalling 32,700, for one more year. The scheme was stopped following reduction in grants by the Centre to the State.

This Cabinet decision came hours after the former Minister U.T. Khader held a press conference on Tuesday criticising supplies to these institutions, including those run by Siddaganga Mutt in Tumakuru and Muruga Rajendra Mutt in Chitradurga, being stopped for over two months.

Minister for Women and Child Development Shashikala Jolle said the government had decided to extend the programme to students of private schools. The Cabinet also took a decision on this matter. The decision to supply rice and wheat to unaided schools would cost an additional ₹18 crore to the State exchequer.

Ms. Jolle claimed that supply of rice and wheat was stopped during the tenure of the coalition government headed by H.D. Kumaraswamy. The seer of Siddaganga Mutt had written to her on the stoppage of the supply of foodgrains to the schools run by the mutt, she said.

The supply of foodgrains to schools run by private managements and mutts was stopped following cut in grants from the Union government, Ms. Jolle said. The State government had not deliberately stopped the supply of foodgrains, she claimed.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Khader accused the State government of “scrapping” the Dasoha scheme started by the Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah.

As a result of this, supply of free foodgrains to thousands of schoolchildren and those living in hostels, old age and destitute homes, beggars’ rehabilitation centres, and night shelters run by 468 welfare institutions, including mutts and NGOs, came to a halt in November 2019.

The former Minister told reporters here that a majority of the beneficiaries (nearly 25,000) under the Dasoha scheme were students of schools and hostels run by Siddaganga Mutt, Suttur Mutt in Mysuru district, Adichunchanagiri Mutt, and Muruga Rajendra Mutt in Chitradurga.

“This has affected thousands of orphans, widows, and homeless and aged people in these welfare institutions. Over a 1,000 patients and their attendants in the State-run Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, who are included in the beneficiary list, have also been hit,” Mr. Khader alleged.

Stating that this was following the Centre’s directions, he alleged that it clearly showed that the BJP government had no concern for the poor.

After the implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013, the Centre had been providing an additional 5% of the 2.17 lakh tonnes of foodgrains allocated to the State (for public distribution system) every month. The State had been procuring rice at ₹3 a kg and wheat at ₹2 and providing the foodgrains for free to the beneficiaries of welfare organisations under the Dasoha scheme since 2016.

Sources in the Food and Civil Supplies Department told The Hindu that the Centre issued an order in July 2019 stopping the additional 5% allocation to the State as there were large-scale complaints of misuse in some States.

“Karnataka should have written back to the Centre then itself clarifying that there is no misuse as the distribution is done after verifying the biometrics and Aadhaar details of every beneficiary. That did not happen and it became inevitable for this government to stop the free supply of foodgrains from November 2019. Even now, the allocation can resume if the State clarifies and convinces the Centre,” sources said.

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