300 plates of sambar and curd rice sold out on first day

Access to good quality food at an affordable price continued to be a constant headache for thousands of patients, attendants and the general public visiting Government Rajaji Hospital here.

Their needs have finally been fulfilled after a long, agonising wait. The visitors at the GRH got a taste of the Chief Minister’s scheme at the newly-inaugurated Amma Unavagam on the hospital premises on Wednesday.

“It is a nice gesture as many people visiting the hospital from different parts of the State could have their fill at a nominal rate,” said Muthamma, 55, from Karur district.

“Before Amma canteen came up, I had to shell out around Rs.200 a day for food. The food at the regular canteen inside the hospital is a bit expensive,” said Pechi, an attendant from Tiruppuvanam.

The canteen was originally scheduled to be inaugurated at 1 p.m. But it was postponed twice until it was inaugurated by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa through videoconferencing at 3.30 p.m. As soon as the outlet was declared open, a huge crowd thronged the counter to purchase sambar rice and curd rice. The security personnel and the staff at the restaurant had a tough time handling the crowd.

The canteen would offer food items such as idli, sambar rice and curd rice at subsidised rates. Idli was sold for a rupee a piece, while sambar rice and curd rice cost Rs.5 and Rs.3 a plate respectively, said V. Yasodha Mani, City Health Officer, Madurai Corporation. Two RO plants were in place to provide drinking water and a solar water heater had also been installed at the outlet. Three hundred plates of sambar and curd rice each were sold out to 600 persons on the first day.

“The GRH facility will serve 2,400 idlis in the morning for 600 people, sambar rice for 600 people and curd rice for 300 every day for now,” said Ms.Mani, adding, depending on the response, the volume would be increased.

The canteen has 17 kitchen staff, two sanitary workers and three security personnel. It would be open for breakfast at 7 a.m. and for lunch at 12 noon. “The average footfall per day is expected to be 2,000. For the time being, the recurring expenditure will be borne by the civic body,” said a Corporation official.

The canteen has been commissioned after a delay of two months since it was set up in the GRH. This is the 11th Amma canteen to be opened in the city. The Corporation runs the 10 other canteens.

According to sources, the State government will soon make an announcement, entrusting the responsibility of running the Amma canteens in government hospitals to the Health Department.

Corporation Mayor V.V. Rajan Chellappa, Commissioner Kiran Gurrala and GRH Medical Superintendent S. Vadivel Murugan were present at the inaugural.

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