Rs. 20 for food, all expenses: Girls in these Karnataka hostels deprived twice over?
irls at their hostel in Magadi village in southern Karnataka
Bangalore: Karnataka's government-run hostels for deprived girl children have been criticized for being more of a farce than a measure of empowerment by the state's women and child welfare department. The daily allowance in these hostels is just Rs. 20 per child. The children are expected to manage their food, medicines, books, electricity and gas within this meager grant.
Leave alone a nutritious meal, the girls in these hostels say they don't even can't even afford basics like sanitary pads and medicines. They say the unhygienic conditions in the hostels may lead to illness, but visiting a doctor is a luxury.
NDTV travelled to a hostel in Magadi village in southern Karnataka. We found the girls were ready for school, much ahead of time. They said they look forward to the mid-day meal in school - the one guaranteed meal in the day.
52 such hostels are run across rural Karnataka for deprived children, some have lost their parents, some were rescued as child labourers while some were abused. Others like Preeti (name changed), a class 9 student, left home because her father allegedly wanted her to marry a 40-year-old man, in exchange of money.
NGOs have tried stepping in to help run the hostels better.
"We go with a begging bowl to people asking for donations. Each month, no matter how much we cut our expenditure, there is excess expenditure of nearly Rs. 9000 over and above what the government grants us," says Child Rights Activist, Saroja who heads the Chiguru Foundation.
Head cook Chandramma earns a salary of Rs. 3000 per month, not enough to make her two ends meet, but she says not being able to feed the children enough hurts her more.
"I try my best to give them what they want to eat. But it hurts me because I know I cannot feed them with a kitchen that is empty and has no provisions." she says.
Ironically, other hostels run by the government like that by the social welfare department or the backward class department give about Rs. 900 as daily allowance per boy or girl. And the allowance is besides the subsidised rice and pulses and medical and library allowances.