The Karnataka state-sponsored Indira Canteens will be opened in about two months but this time, ISKCON may not be supplying the food.
The Karnataka government is holding talks with the Hoteliers’ Association and also certain NGOs, and has asked them to furnish the quantity of ingredients that will go into the preparation of food.
ISKCON, which supplies food to thousands of children across the state through the mid-day meal scheme, has refused to use onions and garlic in the dishes.
“ISCKON has a reputation for providing extremely good quality food, and it has not yet been dropped as a supplier. But we are also keeping our options open,” said UT Khader, Food and Civil Supplies Minister of Karnataka.
“These canteens are for the poor, daily wage workers and rural students, who like onion and garlic in their food. But ISKCON has refused to use the ingredients,” he said.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that the canteens would be launched by the end of May or early June.
The Karnataka government had proposed to open Indira Canteens, which was earlier known as Namma Canteen, in 198 wards under the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Jurisdiction. These canteens will offer breakfast at Rs 5 and lunch and dinner at Rs 10.
Khader told media persons that in the first few months, food will be served on a first-come first-served basis to 200-250 people every day, for each meal, until they can determine the average footfall at each of these canteens.
“There are two proposals: one is to prepare food at a centralised kitchen so that the food quality remains the same for all wards. The second proposal is to prepare food at one kitchen in every Assembly constituency, and supply it to the different wards under its jurisdiction. We are yet to decide which route to take,” the Minister said.
“The quality of food will be better than that of Tamil Nadu’s Amma Canteens. There is no question of compromising on the quality of food just because it is going to be subsidised,” he added.
The Food and Civil Department has handed over the execution of the project to the BBMP. The Palike is now in the process of identifying the 198 centres where the canteens will be set up.
Each Assembly constituency will have seven or eight canteens, and the weight of each plate of food will be between 350 and 400 gms.
BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad said that the Palike is looking at providing free WiFi facilities at the Indira Canteens as well.
Since Bengaluru is the IT hub, we are mulling over provision of free Wifi as well. If the proposal is cleared by the government and funds are granted, then it will become a reality,” he added.