The Madhya Pradesh government will not serve eggs and chicken to children lodged in juvenile and correction homes, home minister Narottam Mishra said on Sunday.
His statement came after the MP Women and Child Development department on August 25 released a gazette notification on the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act 2016, including egg and chicken in the list of food items to be provided to the children lodged in juvenile and correction homes.
“Ande ka funda will not be allowed in MP. We are very clear that eggs will not be provided to anyone. There is confusion over this decision because neither it came to the state government for approval nor such proposal is pending,” the minister said.
WCD officials maintained that the state government implemented all the rules as laid by the central government and in Rule No. 33, there is a list of healthy and nutritious food that should be provided to children lodged at the correction and juvenile homes. The WCD department included chicken once a week and eggs four times a week of about 115 gm in the list of food, they added.
“We followed the rules of the central government. We just need to implement it and we did it so. No discussion was held in the cabinet or in any other meetings. The BJP-led Gujarat government has also implemented it. The children, who are lodged in correction homes and also at Anganwadi need nutritious food. The eggs are the only food that gives energy directly and can’t be substandard and adulterated,” a senior officer of the WCD department said on condition of anonymity.
People aware of the matter said that the WCD department is amending the notification after objection from the minister. However, additional chief secretary Ashok Shah and WCD director RR Bhonsale refused to comment on the issue.
Last month, BJP Karnataka vice president Tejaswini Ananthkumar, the wife of deceased union minister Ananth Kumar, slammed the state government for making egg part of the mid-day meal in schools. “Why has our Karnataka govt decided to give eggs in midday meal? These are not the only source of nutrition. It is also exclusionary to many students who are vegetarians. Our policies are to be designed such that every student has equal opportunity,” she said in a post on Twitter on August 1.
She also questioned the Karnataka government over the findings of a commission report that indicated eggs were vital in solving malnutrition. She said that it was wrong to think that only eggs can solve malnutrition and suggested that the state government include lentils, sprouts and other home-grown produce.
“When the sale of meat and eggs is not banned in India and Madhya Pradesh, why the state government is putting a ban on providing it to growing children as suggested by nutritionists? The JJ Act was formed by many experts and scrutinised by others before being introduced in 2016. The children from the tribal communities and other religions consume chicken and eggs frequently so it would be an injustice to them. Similarly, it shouldn’t be compulsory as many children don’t consume it,” said Prashant Dubey, a child rights activist.