Civic body sets up 15 budget outlets across city, run by women self-help groups, to provide quality food at affordable prices

On Tuesday morning, hundreds of people holding platters of food and wearing broad smiles, streamed out of a restaurant in Santhome.

Three of the customers of the budget restaurant though, got extra lucky. Following the announcement of the names Annapoorani, Thamaraikannan and Saroja, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa herself handed over their food to them.

The outlet was the first of the Chennai Corporation’s 15 budget restaurants opened across the city, and inaugurated by the Chief Minister. The restaurants have been opened with the aim of serving quality food at affordable prices to the general public.

At the restaurant, the Chief Minister seemed engrossed in understanding the ins and outs of the system, under which the restaurants are run by women self-help groups. She enquired about the management of the restaurants and training sessions for workers.

Officials said there had been a three-day training session held for the workers on the preparation of food, management and accounting. Each of the workers is likely to receive an amount of Rs. 270 per day.

Over 10,000 self-help groups with an average of 12 members each in the city, will potentially supply workers for all the restaurants to be commissioned by the Chennai Corporation.

At least 100 restaurants are likely to be set up by March 31. A total of seven women were on the first shift at the Santhome restaurant on Tuesday.

Six women took over the second shift, beginning in the afternoon.

“The food served was excellent,” said Saroja, who was one of the persons who received her food from the Chief Minister. Saroja is flower vendor in Mylapore. She makes Rs. 50 to Rs. 100 per day. On days when sales are not good, Saroja said she would rely solely on the budget restaurant for food at affordable prices.

After the Chief Minister left the premises, there was a rush of customers, all of whom wanted to buy food. As the crowd swelled around the restaurant, the police had to intervene and regulate the masses. Durai Raj, a customer at the restaurant, said, “This scheme will help the weaker sections.”

The restaurant offers idli (100 gram) for a rupee, sambar rice (350 gram) for Rs. 5 and curd rice (350 gram) for Rs. 3. The restaurants will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and noon to 3 p.m.

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