BENGALURU: Eighteen brand new mobile Indira Canteens offered healthy and subsidised food in several areas of Bengaluru where it wasn't possible to have brick and mortar outlets. Six more canteens will be added to the fleet by the end of February. The mobile canteens also have CCTV cameras. The project aims at making Karnataka "hunger-free", said Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah while launching the vans on Republic Day.
The first Indira Canteen was launched in August last year. The new mobile canteens will be operational near hospitals, bus stands and railway stations. Indira Canteens, which are being operated by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagra Palike (BBMP), provide breakfast at Rs. 5 and lunch and dinner for Rs. 10 each. The government spends Rs. 32 per person per day, which takes their annual expenditure to Rs. 115 crores for providing the subsidised food to around 3 lakh citizens.
"The Indira Canteens on wheels are cost effective...it costs around Rs. 14 lakh each whereas we have to shell out Rs. 28 lakh for the construction of a fixed structure for the subsidised canteen," N Manjunath Prasad, the commissioner of the Bengaluru civic body, said.
Earlier, there were canteens operational at 170 of the 198 BBMP wards in the city. The mobile vans are part of the government's efforts to ensure that all 198 centres have operational canteens by February.
The government has also turned to the government's department for ex-servicemen, the Sainik Welfare Board, to help monitor the canteens and ensure security and hygiene. Each canteen is slated to have two former army personnel looking after them. The need for security was highlighted when, in October last year, three men tried to create a ruckus by claiming they found a cockroach in their food. CCTV footage revealed the men themselves had dropped the cockroach in the food.
"We have outsourced the security and the supervision of Indira Canteens and Kitchens as well in order to ensure the proper functioning and maintenance of hygiene and quality" Mr Prasad said.
The initiative by the state government is being seen as an attempt to woo voters in Karnataka which goes to the polls later this year.
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