The kitchen staff start trickling in around 10pm the previous day, the cooks arrive at dawn, cooking begins around 3am and is over by 9am. All this, to make lunch for the 5,000-plus people — including MPs — who dine at Parliament every day.
Ever since two of the four kitchens in the Parliament complex closed down in July following a fire safety audit, this has been a routine affair. It does not end here. The ready meal is then shifted in hot cases from the kitchens in the library building and the annexe to the main building by 9.30am.
“After VIP movements start, lifts cannot be blocked to bring in food. Moving huge utensils inside the main building during work hours is also a big hassle,” says chairman of Parliament’s food management committee, Ranjan Prasad Yadav.
“The Parliament’s job is to make law, not food. I have spoken to Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar and requested her not to allow cooking inside the main building,” he added.
Before the ‘fire alarm’ went off, the entire process used to start at 6am. The menu too was a trifle longer with 64 items, instead of the current trimmed version offering only a few kinds of thalis.
Lok Sabha secretary general TK Vishwanathan told HT these arrangements were “temporary” and there are plans to build an additional kitchen within the Parliament complex.
Vishwanathan pointed out that the garbage and seepage from the kitchen in the main building had damaged some rooms. Last year, a chunk from the ceiling fell on then petroleum minister Murli Deora, whose office was just below the kitchen.