Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has shut down all mobile Indira Canteens in the city citing lack of patronage.
BBMP Chief Commissioner Tushar Giri Nath on Friday said that all the mobile canteens have been closed since they were not seeing many people. “We did not have any intention to shut down mobile canteens, however, we are not seeing many people using them. Apart from mobile Indian canteens, all other canteens are working,” said Mr. Tushar Giri Nath.
Around 15 mobile Indira Canteens were working in the city, according to BBMP officials. A senior Palike official said that the main reason to shut mobile canteens is that service provider agencies are not happy with the payment. “Agencies supplying the mobile canteens have started noticing losses due to transportation and low people turn out. The agencies have been complaining about low payment given to them to run mobile canteens,” official added.
There are 174 Indira Canteens and 15 mobile canteens serving lakhs of citizens, mostly belonging to lower socio-economic groups who depend on the canteens for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which are made available at a subsidised cost in the city. Currently, three agencies — Chef Talk, Rewards, and Adamya Chetana are providing food to the Indira Canteens.
Lack of budgetary allocation
After 101 canteens were initially opened in 2017, their popularity led to the expansion of the scheme to all the 198 wards. Currently, Indira Canteens are providing breakfast at ₹5 and lunch and dinner at ₹10.
Most canteens in the city are suffering due to what the Opposition alleges the lack of interest by the present BJP government to fund the canteen.
In 2017-18 and 2018-2019, the then government allocated ₹100 crore and ₹145 crore respectively, but after the BJP government took over, in the past two years, no funds were allocated for the scheme. Hence, the civic body had to allot funds to the canteens from its own budget. The BBMP had earmarked ₹60 crore in the 2022-23 Budget for running the Indira Canteens. While no decision has been taken to cease the canteen scheme as of now, the contractors said that they had not been paid for months.
Politics around canteen
Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah who started the Indira Canteens during his regime to feed the urban poor had earlier in a tweet alleged that the BJP government is planning to close canteens. Last month, Karnataka Congress President D.K. Shivakumar also alleged that the government is closing 40 canteens and asked his party workers to stage protests in front such closed canteens.