The city is famous for cost effective street food, but Benfish, an arm of the state fisheries department, is going to redefine the term by introducing a whole meal including rice, daal, curry and fish for Rs 21 only. It will be marketed under a project called Ekushe Annapurna and will be kicked off during the pujas at four points in the city. After the pujas it will be continued during lunchtime near office clusters.
The project can raise eyebrows in an environment when food inflation is regularly making headlines and the price of daal is racing towards the Rs 200/kg mark, not to speak of the price of fish.
The key to the pricing, according to fisheries minister Chandranath Sinha, is the fact that they have control over the fish that is the most expensive item in the list. Significantly, Annapurna is the goddess of nourishment and is another name of Durga.
“We have sent this name to our chief minister for approval. After we get her nod we will brand the effort as Ekushe Annapurna,” said an official of state fisheries department. The project is being undertaken in a private-public-partnership (PPP) model. Benfish has struck an agreement with a private company.
The meal will be kept inside a packet and will be covered with a plastic jacket that will prevent contamination during handling. According to an official of the fisheries department, they are following the packaging style of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
In some areas of the city such as Sealdah, rice, daal and vegetable are available for Rs 15-20, but these are cooked on the pavement and handled in an unhygienic manner, and middle class consumers avoid these spots. But the Benfish offer will be completely hygienic and will appeal to the middle class, claimed Sinha.
“We are trying to make the packaging of the food attractive to attract the common people and office crowd,” said an official of the department.
According to him, after the pujas, the project will be introduced in Suburban areas through franchisees. Interested youths will be given the franchisee to run the business.
“The motto of our chief minister is to offer food to every person of the state. Keeping that objective in mind, we have designed the project. We have primarily selected 10 spots in Kolkata where we will sell it through mobile vans. From cooking to selling, the entire chain will be executed by our employees,” Sinha said.
So far the various arms of the state government were selling products such as honey, ghee, raw meat, poultry and fish items. But this is the first time when the government will start selling cooked complete meals. “In future we have plans to sell it in other parts of the state too,” said the minister.