Pune: Kids left to starve at the NICMAR COVID-19 Centre, parents protest for proper food

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Shikha Chaurasia

Pune, 4th August 2020: The condition of children and toddlers below the age of seven at the National Institute of Construction Management and Research (NICMAR) COVID-19 Care Centre (CCC) in Balewadi is extremely pitiful. They are left to starve and are only being fed 50 ml of milk twice a day. The authorities are providing nothing more than milk due to which the parents are forced to feed their kids the available oily and spicy food at the centre which is not good for their health.

The centre has approximately 50 kids and some of them are COVID-19 positive while some are there because their parents are positive. Despite strict instructions from the district collector and the Pune Municipal Commissioner to feed the kids the centre with milk, juice and biscuits, they are not getting anything except milk.

On paper, the authorities are spending Rs 300 per patient for their diet, but in reality, the patients are left to fend off for themselves. This situation has left the patients completely helpless especially the mothers who are COVID-19 positive and cannot breastfeed their infants.

Ganesh Swami a resident of Bopodi and a father of a three-year-old told the Pune Mirror, “In this centre, there is no consideration of infants or children. Babies need food constantly for nourishment, but the centre is not doing anything. Many of the kids in the centre are COVID-19 positive, how will they be cured if healthy food is not being given to them?” he asked. He also said that the quantity of milk given to the kids twice a day is not more than 50 ml.  

A 29-year-old mother with an eight-month-old baby from Pashan has been rendered helpless. She and her husband have tested positive for the virus but their child is negative. Her husband is admitted at another COVID-19 Care Centre. There is nobody who can go and fetch food for them. “I have no other option but to beg other parents to spare little quantity of milk from their share for my child”, she said.

On Saturday, these parents lost their patience and staged a dharna in front of the centre’s kitchen. They not only protested about the quantity of food but also the quality of food which was being given to them. The 29-year-old mother said that they were also ready to pay for the food but it should be guaranteed that the food reaches them.

When the word got out and reached the officials and senior civic officers that the parents at protesting at the centre, they immediately rushed out to placate them and promised to resolve their problems in a few days.