The Karnataka government inaugurated its prestigious Indira Canteens project on August 15, speaking at length about its intentions of alleviating hunger. In the process of meeting the deadlines for the completion of the construction works, the BBMP seems to have forgotten an essential requirement - to procure an FSSAI license to run the establishments.
According to Binoy Valsan and Manoj Sharma reporting for Bangalore Mirror, the 101 Indira Canteens that have now been functioning for a week lack Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) license.
"Section 31 (1) of the Food Safety Act says that nobody (it makes no exception for the government) is entitled to commence a food business without a licence from FSSAI," the report states.
Quoting Manoj Kumar Meena, Food Safety Commissioner, the report states that the official only assured that the license will be procured soon and refused to give an explanation as to why it wasn't done earlier.
However, the BBMP seems to be under the impression that a government-run food establishment need not procure a license at all.
BBMP Executive Engineer and nodal officer in charge of Indira Canteens Nandish JR told BM that contrary to private establishments, government projects do not require license at all.
â€śOnly private hotels require registration and licence. The government issues them these certificates to ensure that the food they serve to the public is safe. But Indira Canteen is the governmentâ€™s project so there will be no such problems,â€ť he was quoted as saying.
BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad, however, said that the application to get the licence will be made in a week's time and it expects to get the license issued within 60 days.
Why is this a problem?
When an eatery lacks license from FSSAI, it makes it impossible for the authorities to make sure that the food served at these eateries are of good quality. It is only after the officials from Food Safety Department conducts checks on the hygiene and quality of food, that a license is granted.
Moreover, when food is manufactured at one spot and sold at a different spot, separate licenses are required. In the case of Indira Canteens, a company called ChefTalk has been given the contract to supply food to 110 canteens, with its kitchen located in Whitefield.
License not the only problem
According to a report published in The Hindu, the lack of license of the canteens is not the only issue the government project is facing.
On Monday, the Indira Canteen at Subramanyanagar (Ward 66) remained closed, with a small notice outside the canteen declaring its closure for the day. However, after the abrupt closure of the canteen was brought to the notice of the Mayor, G Padmavathi soon ordered for it to be opened.
Elaborating on the sudden closure of the canteen, Subramanyanagar councillor H Manjunath told the newspaper, â€śThere was very little water in the sump on Sunday. I had informed the jurisdictional health inspector. However, he failed to act on it. On Monday morning, the staff decided to not open the canteen as there was no water.â€ť