The Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Supplier’s Association, the century-old organisation of the dabbawalas, has decided to hike its service charges.
At present, the dabba delivery service costs Rs500 per month. From next month, there will be a hike of Rs50, for a tiffin packed for one person, to Rs150, for a tiffin packed for two or more people.
“The cost of everything in the city is increasing, and our members also need to survive,” said Raghunath Medge, president of the association. “We started handing out circulars about the hike to our consumers from June 1,” he added.
It has been a year since the prices of these tiffins were last hiked. The dabba system of Mumbai is known for its low-cost, efficient service that helps close to two lakh people enjoy home-cooked food at work. Each of the 5,000 dabbawalas deliver approximately 40 dabbas a day, and earn a monthly income of Rs10,000. “Their incomes have not kept pace with the increasing cost of living in the city,” said Medge. “They live in cramped homes with limited means. They deserve better pay,” he added.
Customers had a mixed response to the hike. “I will continue to use their services since eating a home-cooked meal is a better option than eating at a restaurant every day,” said Sandeep Shah, 42, a Vile Parle resident who works in a trading business at Fort. “However, if the charges keep increasing every year, it might get difficult to continue with the service,” he added. “I have decided to stop taking their service,” said Manoj Mundra, who stays in Malad and works with a financial firm at Nariman Point. “It used to be difficult for me to carry my tiffin in the crowded train and that’s why I had hired the dabbawala’s services. But over the years, their charges have increased frequently while their efficiency has decreased,” said Mundra.
“There will be some customers who might not want to pay the additional amount. But we are sure this will still be more affordable than eating from outside every day,” said Medge.