Mumbai: On March 19, 2019 the Narendra Modi government's food and public distribution department wrote to all states, informing them that the Union government had reviewed its policy of supplying foodgrain to welfare institutions and hostels. As per this policy 'only' welfare institutions and hostels for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe/Other Backward Classes hostels, either owned or run by states or Union territory governments, would be eligible for foodgrain supply.
With this decision, private welfare institutions and government-aided hostels in the state were kept aside from the supply of foodgrain. There are 2289 such hostels and 2,19,0151 beneficiaries of the scheme. All these students hail from poor backgrounds.
As per the earlier norms, a student was entitled to 15 kg of foodgrain a month. So, Maharashtra was entitled for the 39,000 tonnes of foodgrain under this project, which was directed for welfare institutions and hostels. With this single decision, two lakh students have been affected in Maharashtra alone.
As news of this decision spread last year, directors of all these institutions and hostels started appealing to all political leaders of the state, seeking their intervention in the matter. Finally, the food and civil supply department of Maharashtra took cognisance of the situation and has now written a letter to Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister, Ramvilas Paswan, seeking a rethink.
Letter by union government to states.
"You can't keep two lakh students hungry. It is our constitutional duty to see that every person in the state gets food. It is the basic right of people. Forget the economic aspect of it, wherein the financial burden is will now be borne by these hostels, but the Centre’s basic insensitivity towards the poorest students of the country needs to be understood. That's why we have requested the Union government to rethink," said state food and civil supply minister, Chhagan Bhujbal.
The directors of these over 2,000 hostels and welfare institutions have also requested veteran Nationalist Congress Party leader, Sharad Pawar, to intervene and speak to Paswan.
In a recent meeting, Bhujbal briefed Pawar about the matter. In next few days, the CCP supremo is slated to meet Paswan and request him to restore the earlier scheme of foodgrain supply.