By Y Maheswara Reddy
A short-term tender to ensure a nutritious diet for state’s emerging athletes is raising eyebrows; and so are its dates
Nutrition goes a long way in preparing our athletes for a sports tournament. But the manner in which a tender is being awarded to supply a nutritious diet for budding athletes (there are nearly 4,000 of them living in 30 sports hostels in Karnataka) has left a bad taste in the mouth.
At the heart of the issue is the daily amount spent on young athletes living in these hostels — the government currently spends Rs 200 on food for senior students and Rs 175 on junior ones; however, there is a proposal to hike it to Rs 275 per student.
While the State government is sitting on the proposal by the Youth Empowerment and Sports Department to increase the food budget for the Sports hostel inmates, the Department has decided to float short-term tenders inviting bidders to supply food to the students for three months starting from June 2019. (Eyebrows are also being raised on the timelines — the tender is to be completed by May 18, days before the LS results on May 23. There are rumours that the incumbent government may face headwinds after that date).
A warden at a sports hostel said, “It has become tough for us to provide food for the students since the funds allocated by the department are hardly enough to procure groceries. We will be able to provide the recommended diet if the authorities increase the amount per student to Rs 250. Last year, the authorities had increased the budget from Rs 175 to Rs 200 per student.’’
The tender process is expected to be completed by May 18. For three months, each of the hostels has been allocated a budget of Rs 24,18,750.
There are around 30 sports hostels in Karnataka maintained by the Youth Empowerment and Sports Department. Each hostel has about 120 to 130 inmates. These hostels are situated in all district headquarters for the benefit of students who want to specialize in the sport of their choice while continuing their education. Each of the hostels has a kitchen and all the food supplied is the same across all the hostels. While floating tenders, the Department has specified a list of all that needs to be supplied to the inmates, with a break-up of the daily menu.
Each day’s menu is different with instructions that vegetables in the curry should not be repeated; green leafy vegetables should be included in the menu at least twice a week; seasonal fruits should be provided and lemon juice should not be given as a substitute.
This is a sample of one day’s menu. A glass of seasonal fruit juice and a fistful of dry fruits (four cashews, five raisins, three dates and four almonds) to begin the day.
Breakfast includes five to six dosas with vegetable sagu, groundnut chutney, two eggs, and milk with sugar between 8.30 am and 10 am. The lunch menu has six to eight wheat/jowar rotis, unlimited brown/white rice, kohlrabi (knol khol) sambar, bottle gourd palya, fresh vegetable green salad and curd. At around 3.30 pm, the inmates are given 200 ml of seasonal fruit juice and one cup of fresh fruit with honey. Around 6.30 pm, the students get a chocolate milk shake and one cup of green gram sprouts. Dinner comprises six to eight chapatis, brown/white rice, chicken or paneer curry, curd and salad and a cup of milk with sugar. Sunday night dinner includes mutton biryani or paneer biryani.
We spend Rs 200 on each student. We have sent a proposal to increase the amount to Rs 275 per student. We are yet to receive the government’s nod for this– K Srinivas, Commissioner, Dept of Youth Empowerment and Sports
The inmates of these hostels have no complaints. “We have no problems here. We are happy with the quality and quantity of food,’’ says Smaran Nayak, a student at a sports hostel at Sampangi Rama Nagar.
It’s taxpayers’ money
Some social activists consider the decision to float short-term tenders as a waste of tax-payers’ money. “The authorities should have floated the tender inviting bidders to supply food for a whole year instead of floating a short-term tender for three months. This short-term tender means that the authorities will have to float another tender after three months again. It will cause loss to the exchequer,’’ says Sai Datta, a social activist.
Bhaskar (name changed), an activist, has questioned the need to float the tender for three months. “I think the Minister for Sports is not sure of the coalition government’s survival. Higher authorities have told me that floating a short-term tender was the Sports minister’s idea.’’
However, Commissioner, Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports, K Srinivas has said that the department has sent a proposal to the government seeking more funds for the maintenance of the sports hostels. “As of now, we are spending Rs 200 on each student. We have sent a proposal to increase the amount to Rs 275 per student. We hope to get the government’s nod in two to three months. After that, we will float another set of tenders inviting the bidders to supply food to the students,’’ says K Srinivas.
Minister for Youth Empowerment and Sports, Raheem Khan, was not available for comment. His office said that the minister was busy canvassing for the Congress candidate contesting in the bypoll for Chincholi assembly seat.