Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi today launched the Karnataka government’s subsidised food canteens ‘Indira Canteen’ in Bengaluru that would provide breakfast at Rs five and lunch and dinner at a cost of Rs 10.
Apparently taking the cue from the popular ‘Amma canteens’ in Tamil Nadu, introduced by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, the Siddaramaiah government had announced setting up of the canteens in the state budget for 2017-2018.
Initially referred to as ‘Namma Canteen’, the name was later changed to ‘Indira Canteen’ as Congress legislators sought to give a political touch to the populist announcement ahead of the Assembly polls early next year by naming it after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
An amount of Rs 100 crore was provided in the budget to set up the canteens in 198 wards of Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). Congratulating the state government for the canteen programme, Gandhi said it is designed to make sure that not a single person in Bengaluru goes hungry.
Calling the world an “unfair place”, the Congress vice president, who also had a lunch at the canteen, said it is targeted at the working class like construction workers and auto rickshaw drivers.
“There are many people in this city who live in huge houses and have plenty of food, who drive in big cars and for them food is not a big issue..but there are millions of people in Bengaluru like construction workers, those who own small shops, autorickshaw or taxi drivers, barbers and people who don’t get that much money, and it is those people at whom this Indira Canteen is targeted,” he said.
“We want the people from poorest and weakest sections in Bengaluru to feel that they will no have to stay hungry in this city. There cannot be a single minute where a poor person in Bengaluru is hungry. We want every single person to know and understand that,” he added.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Congress General Secretary in-charge of the state K C Venugopal, the party’s state unit chief G Parameshwara and Bengaluru in-charge Minister K J George, among others were present at the event.
Taking pride over the Congress government conceptualising such a canteen, Gandhi said the intention was that the quality of food and cleanliness in it be the same as the most expensive restaurants in Bengaluru.
“I would like the government to pay special attention to this fact that the canteen should have excellent quality food, excellent hygiene and people walking out of this canteen must feel that they not only had safe food, but tasty food. I think we owe this to every single citizen,” he said.
He said that the chief minister had informed him about extending the programme to other cities of the state.
In the first phase, 101 canteens were launched today and the remaining 97 will start functioning from October 2, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike officials said.
Though it was initially proposed to have 198 canteens launched by the Independence Day, the number was later brought down to 125 owing to constrains related in getting land for construction of canteens in all the wards.
A total of 27 kitchens will be set up across the city to cater to these canteens, of which 14 are ready and six are currently in working condition.
According to officials, the canteens as of now will serve 500 plates of food, keeping in mind the budgetary allocation, and this is likely to be increased in the future.
Claiming that BBMP had ensured that project take shape to this level within 60 days after getting the order on June 12, officials said construction of canteens is being undertaken by KEF Infra Ltd, while Rewards, and Cheftalk Food and Hospitality Services have given the catering contract for the canteens.
(With PTI inputs)