The Karnataka government has decided to include eggs in mid-day meals in seven districts to mitigate malnourishment. According to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), over 14.4 lakh children will benefit from the decision.
According to Commissioner of Public Instruction V Anbukumar, the scheme will be implemented in Ballari, Bidar, Kalaburagi, Koppal, Raichur, Vijayapura and Yadgir districts, where malnourishment has been found to persist among children.
Officials were instructed at a recent meeting to include items of supplementary nutrition in mid-day meals in districts where there is higher malnourishment — such a list was recently published by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS). The scheme is expected to be implemented soon.
A senior officer said the DPI is already in discussion with the Karnataka Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation to explore the feasibility of introducing a “pure-vegetarian alternative” in the diet. “However, we have got no appropriate proposals till date. Energy balls are an alternative, but are yet to be finalised,” the officer said.
Further, the DPI has instructed a team of officials to visit neighbouring Tamil Nadu to study how the scheme is implemented there.
Incidentally, Minister for Women and Child Development (WCD) in the previous Yediyurappa-led cabinet Shashikala Jolle was accused of corruption linked to egg distribution to lactating mothers and children in anganwadis in the Kalyana Karnataka region of the state.
At the time, Congress national general secretary (Karnataka in-charge) Randeep Singh Surjewala had cited a sting operation carried out by local media which indicated the minister’s involvement in the alleged scam. “Any government that siphons off funds meant for the nutrition of children commits the worst crime in the world,” he had said.
Subsequently, even as Jolle made it to the Basavraj Bommai-led cabinet, she was divested of WCD portfolio and was allocated Muzrai, Haj and Waqf departments instead.
At the same time, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister K S Eshwarappa said in August that the government would not conduct any inquiry into the allegations against Jolle.
“We cannot order investigations and inquiries against ministers, just because someone says something against someone. Some people make baseless allegations against leaders in responsible positions. They are not to be taken seriously,” he had said.