‘Tribal Kids need good diet, not food supplements
Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) minister, Babanrao Pachpute, and his Congressman deputy, Rajendra Gavit, are at war over a Rs17crore purchase deal of dietary supplements for students of tribal schools.
Gavit, the minister of state for tribal development, has raised an objection on Pachpute’s decision to buy nutritional supplements, arguing that tribal students should be provided with a good diet so that they do not need food supplements. Also, they should be provided with better infrastructure and academic facilities.
Gavit is reported to have told Pachpute that food supplements, which provide nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fibers, fatty acids, or amino acids, were actually needed for children who are so physically weak and malnourished that they are unable to attend school. The Women and Child Welfare Department takes care of this supply through a separate programme.
Despite Gavit’s opposition, the deal was finalised and the first installment of the supply of dietary supplements has arrived at tribal schools.
Gavit refused to elaborate on the matter. He said, “I do not want to comment on this matter because it pertains to my own department.”
“Gavit, who comes from a tribal community, pointed out that his department should set priorities. He says that the money spent on food supplements can be used for other important things,” said a senior official from the tribal welfare department, who did not wish to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
In his argument, Pachpute said that the purchase was legal and for years, has been the priority of the tribal department. He said, “I’m new to the tribal development department. I’m told that the department has been buying such supplements for many years.”
In January this year, another Congress minister Padmakar Valvi, the minister for sports and youth welfare, accused Pachpute of overlooking the welfare of tribal people.