Govt. canteens to the rescue of the poor

The State government has been serving free food to the poor and the homeless through the Indira Canteens during the lockdown in Belagavi district.  

Indira Canteens have provided free food to over 45,000 poor and homeless persons during the lockdown in the district facing the second wave of the epidemic.

In five weeks, each one of the 10 State-run low-cost eateries have served around 200 orders of breakfast and 500 meals per day, on an average.

This started with the State government deciding to open these feeding centres in the first week of May. The outlets that had been closed since the lockdown began in April, were opened on May 10.

“This has been a great relief to the poor like us,’’ says Ashfaq Ahmed, who operates an autorickshaw around the District Civil Hospital. He and his friends have been visiting the outlet behind the hospital every day for four weeks now. “Earlier, we left home hungry every morning,’’ he said.

“Earlier, we were charged ₹5 per plate of breakfast and ₹10 per plate of lunch and dinner. But now all these are free,’’ said Hanumant Kaladagi, Assistant Executive Engineer in the city corporation who is in charge of the canteens in the city. “The footfall in the canteens is expected to increase in the coming days and we are making preparations to face it,’’ he said. The State government has issued fresh orders extending free service for a week in all the 11 districts with extended lockdown.

Belagavi City Corporation Commissioner K.H. Jagadish said that systems and processes have been put in place to see that the canteens continued to work through the lockdown period. “Our officers have made all arrangements, including deputing staff for cleaning and cooking, ensuring physical distancing and procurement of foodgrains and vegetables. We are working to see that there are no glitches,’’ he said.

However, there are some issues. “We have been working without any payment for over a month,’’ complained a contractor who supplies foodgrains and supervises labour in these units.

He said that a Joint Director in the Urban Development Department, which manages the hotels, said that the State government would soon settle their bills. “We are used to working on credit while we are on contract with the government. But due to the lockdown, our other businesses are down and we have no cash on hand. It will be of help if the government releases funds early,’’ he said.

Vasant Patil, one of the canteen managers, said that they were also paying electricity and water bills of the outlets, other than buying material and paying workers. This is coming to around ₹10 lakh per outlet per month. This should be settled as soon as possible, he said. The managers have submitted a memorandum to the government.

Deputy Commissioner M.G. Hiremath said that the contractors will be paid as soon as the requisite grant was released by the government.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 2:24:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/govt-canteens-to-the-rescue-of-the-poor/article34833520.ece

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