Janakeeya hotels to the rescue of lockdown-hit

There are 107 Janakeeya hotels in Ernakulam, 78 in rural areas and the remaining in urban areas.  

Shortly after then Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac announced the opening of 1,000 Janakeeya hotels by the Kudumbashree in his budget last year, the State went into a lockdown following the outbreak of the pandemic.

Thus, even before they could start operations, the proposed Janakeeya hotels had to adapt to a new challenge and got launched as community kitchens. They did an admirable job throughout the lockdown feeding beleaguered people facing hunger.

Once the lockdown was lifted, they metamorphosed into their original avatar as Janakeeya hotels conceived as part of the larger goal of hunger-free Kerala by serving meals at as little as ₹20 of which half was being subsidised by the State government. Ernakulam now has 107 such hotels, 78 in rural areas and the rest in urban areas.

“During the second lockdown, our Janakeeya hotels are serving on an average 15,000 meals a day. The main beneficiaries are eligible inmates of community first-line treatment centres and domicile care centres, home-quarantined, families whose livelihoods have taken a hit in the lockdown. The cost of these meals is being reimbursed by the local bodies concerned,” said S. Renjini, Ernakulam district coordinator, Kudumbashree Mission.

Labour contractors are also increasingly dependent on these hotels to feed their large labour community. Local bodies have fallen back on them to feed people in coastal areas hit by heavy rain and sea erosion.

In short, the hotels have turned out to be a win-win situation for both Kudumbashree units and the beneficiaries they serve, as the former is assured of a regular income and the latter of staving off hunger during these trying times. In fact, it has emerged as a perfect model of convergence between Community Development Societies and local bodies.

As of now, 107 Kudumbashree units with a minimum of two members are associated with Janakeeya hotels set up using the revolving funds offered by panchayats, district panchayats, and the Kudumbashree Mission. The Mission initially released ₹10,000, and the rest was tied on to performance.

The State government had initially allocated ₹23 crore followed by more financial assistance taking the number of such hotels beyond the original target of 1,000. “There is no dearth of funds, as the number of meals served by each hotel is registered by the block coordinators concerned, and subsidy is released accordingly,” said Ms. Renjini.

While ₹20 is fixed for basic meals, additional charges can be levied for special items ordered beyond that. But even then, the cost does not exceed beyond ₹50 or ₹60 for a meal.

Many of these hotels operate beyond serving a single noon meal and function like a normal eatery serving quality homily food at reasonable prices. There are hotels that serve 300 to 400 meals a day, as they are preferred by daily wage labourers.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 3:55:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/janakeeya-hotels-to-the-rescue-of-lockdown-hit/article34574172.ece

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