The city’s budget canteens may produce a variety of food at reasonable prices, delighting residents, but losses are taking toll on their sheen.

For every famed, Re. 1 idli that that is consumed at the Amma canteens, the Chennai Corporation loses 86 paise.

Hours after inauguration of the 127 new Amma canteens on Tuesday, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said these eateries were one of the efforts taken by the State government to tackle price rise. She attributed the rise in price of food products to the hike in diesel prices by the Central government.

“The Chennai Corporation spends Rs. 1.86 on each idli served in the canteen. The State government supplies rice at a cost of Re. 1 per kg to the Corporation. The Corporation procures other raw materials in the market and manages the canteens. The Corporation incurs a loss of 86 paise for an idli,” said the Chief Minister.

“If this government claimed that each idli cost Rs. 10 and said it was incurring a loss of Rs. 9, that statement would be as erroneous as the claims of under-recovery made by oil companies. Their claims are made based on flawed calculations,” said Ms.Jayalalithaa.

According to a Corporation official, one kg of subsidised rice supplied at Re. 1 by the State government along with 300 grams of urad dal is enough to make 45 to 50 idlis. So the money spent on rice for each idli is 2 to 3 paise in an Amma Canteen. Around 20 paise is spent on urad dal for each idli. The task of procurement of vegetables for sambar is the most challenging aspect of the operation, for the Amma Canteens, officials said. Sambar is given free of cost with the idlis. The cost of fuel, masala and vegetables for sambar crosses 110 paise for each idli, the official said.

The Corporation procures cooking gas at commercial rates of Rs. 1,780 per cylinder.

The eateries are part of an ambitious project aimed at providing healthy food at reasonable prices to residents living in slums, daily labourers, drivers, load-men and migrant workers.

Over 2,400 women belonging to self-help groups in the city cook, serve and manage all of the canteens.

The restaurants offer idli (100 gram) for a rupee, sambar rice (350 gram) at Rs. 5 and curd rice (350 gram) at Rs. 3.

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