The associations stated that it was not economically viable.

Ktaka govts proposal for Indira Canteens rejected by hotel owners associations
news Food Thursday, April 06, 2017 - 10:01

The Indira Canteens, which were supposed to be launched in May, have hit a new roadblock.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister UT Khader, on Wednesday, said that two major hotel owners’ associations had rejected the government's proposal to supply food for these canteens, stating that it was not economically viable.

The Karnataka government had recently hinted that ISKCON may not be the one to win the contract for the proposed Indira Canteens. 

Khader had said that the government had sent its offer to various hoteliers’ associations and it was keeping its options open.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had announced that Rs 100 crore had been allotted for the Indira Canteens to come up in 198 wards of Bengaluru, during the 2017-2018 budget session.

Indira Canteens, modelled after Tamil Nadu’s Amma Canteen, intends to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner at subsidized rates. 

The Karnataka government was initially in talks with ISKCON for supply of food to these canteens. 

ISKCON had refused to use onions and garlic in its list of ingredients, which seemed to be a deal-breaker for the government as UT Khader had recently announced that “workers would like to have onion and garlic after a long day's work”. 

The government had then approached two major hotel owners’ associations who said they are not interested in the government's offer.

“The associations feel that any involvement in supplying the food to these canteens would amount to conflict of interest as it would affect their business interests. The hotel owners' feel this way despite the government reassuring them that all expenses would be reimbursed and ensuring that hoteliers will make profits,” Khader added.

The Karnataka government had initially approached the Bruhat Bengaluru Hotels’ Association, which has around 2,000 hotels in BBMP region as its members, with the proposal to supply food for the Indira Canteens. The 81-year-old association rejected the Food and civil supplies department’s proposal.

The association President, B Chandrasekhar Hebbar, said that the proposal was rejected due to shortage of manpower.

"We were asked to provide details like quantity and the ingredients to be used and also a rate chart for it. We did not respond,” Hebbar said. 

Karnataka Pradesh Hoteliers’ and Restaurants’ Association, which comprises hoteliers’ associations in all districts, also rejected the state government's proposal. The Association's President, M Rajendra, said that it is not financially viable to supply cooked food. 

Besides, he said the concept of providing subsidised food itself is flawed. "The concept of providing food at subsidised rates is flawed. Government must help people increase their standard of living, not make them feel inferior by doling out freebies,” he added.

Minister UT Khader said the department had approached the associations due to their expertise. “They feel that their customer count will go down of the canteens come up and felt that the government was trying to divert their customers to Indira Canteens. We tried telling them that it was not  a for regular customers but for the poor but they did not listen,” he added.  

The state government is now planning to approach NGOs and youth associations and also individuals who had expressed interest in the project. 

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