Locals get the ‘food experience’ as Indira Canteens in Bengaluru become haven for logistical glitches,food shortage,no coupons and long queues
BENGALURU,August24: At Rs 5 a plate, idlis are the hot cakes in the Indira Canteen in Kodigehalli, north Bengaluru. By the time R Goundar, a mason, arrives on Tuesday morning, the canteen has run out of idlis. It’s less than an hour since the canteen opened. Goundar and many others like him are missing out on the benefits of affordable food promised by chief minister Siddaramaiah. A week after they opened in 101 wards, Indira Canteens continue to be dogged by a number of logistical glitches -late delivery, changed menu, and shortage of food compounded by the well-to-do dropping in for the “food experience”.
Goundar finally has his breakfast at an expensive roadside stall. “My son told me the quality of food at the Indira Canteen was good and it was cheap too. I’m struggling to make ends meet and need to eat in these canteens,” he said.
While some of the canteens have come up at places which are not really teeming with the poor, there is also a delay in food reaching the eateries, and running out in no time.
Long wait in a queue to pick up tokens and another endless wait for the food to arrive makes it difficult for labourers to spare that much time.
A quick survey of Indira Canteens by TOI found that there are many who are left disappointed as the canteens invariably run out of food.
The Indira Canteen at Maruti Seva Nagar is out of stock
Off Berlie Street in Shantinagar, autorickshaw driver Afzal Khan was turned away when he reached the canteen at 2.15pm. “I eat when I stop between trips.
It may not always be possible to reach a canteen when they start serving meals. The food is good but those who come late miss out,” he told TOI.
Lunch service gets scant , leaving many disappointed, though they had come during the mandated lunch hours.
Then, there is a different clientele. Ajay N, a finance employee with a company, who stopped by for a meal at the Hebbal outlet said, “I carry lunch from home every day, I wanted to see how the canteen system works. I don’t mind eating here occasionally.”
Ranjini M, who came with her mother-in-law to the Kodigehalli canteen on Monday for dinner, parked her car by the roadside. After collecting the coupons, the duo headed to a fast food stall nearby to have masala puri. “I’ve tasted the food at a couple of other canteens. The taste and quantity are great. This is just an experience,” she said.
Lunchtime at the Indira Canteen in Hoysala Nagar, east Bengaluru, starts only by about 1pm, while BBMP has mandated that lunch be served from 12:30pm.
Locals say it’s been opening late for every meal since August 16. When TOI visited the canteen at 12.45pm, the doors were shut and a few workers were napping inside.
For Papamma, 54, a vegetable vendor, the canteen is a boon but only if she arrives on time.
“Normally , I spend Rs 30-40 per meal, but now I spend only Rs 10. But the queues get long. I have to keep track of time and reach before the canteen shuts,” she says.There are only six centralized canteens and 17 more are under construction. This is primarily the reason for shortage of food in the 101 canteens, say BBMP officials.
WRONG MENU, NO COUPONS
Though the BBMP has fixed the menu, catering companies seem to be dishing up what they wish.In Shantinagar, for example, instead of rice and sambar for lunch, citizens were served pulao. “I came here expecting some hot rice and sambar. Not that the pulao is bad, but we were expecting something different. We heard the menu was fixed,” said Bharat N, a Swiggy employee.
The canteen supervisor said they were not focused on the dishes, as they were more preoccupied with providing food on time. In Byatarayanapura too, pulao, curd rice and chutney were served instead of rice and sambar.
Here, you can evade the coupon system. The staff was ready to serve meals without giving coupons, and said money can be paid at the place where food is delivered. “This is clearly a violation, as the coupon system keeps a tab on the number of meals served in each canteen and accordingly, measures can be taken to supply additional stock or reduce it if required,” said a BBMP official who promised to initiate action.
MAYOR ON DAILY INSPECTION ROUNDS
Mayor G Padmavathi admits that on an average, 250 people per meal are served in each canteen.”There is a shortage of food supply primarily because only three centralized kitchens are working.Another 13 will be completed in about a fortnight. By September 1, we will be able to feed 500 people per meal in each of the 101 canteens,” she told TOI.
She put the demand in each canteen at 800 per meal, but the logistics of sending the required amount of food to each canteen is still not worked out.
Rahul Gandhi should put his hand in the pocket and remove some Bofors, 2G, 3G loot.
Then the canteens will have stock of food and will serve it in time.
Padmavathi has been inspecting an average of 1015 Indira Canteens a day to see whether the management, quality of food and hygiene is being maintained. On Monday, she suspended Nagesh, a health inspector who shut down the Subramanyapura ward canteen even when there was enough food left.
“I am inspecting 10-15 canteens a day and updating the chief minister. He is very happy with the way the scheme is working. By October, we will be able to set up all 27 kitchens, one in each assembly constituency.Then we can feed a minimum of 3lakh citizens,” she said.