The state food and public distribution department will soon launch mobile vans that will provide dal-bhaat-sabji to below poverty line (BPL) residents for only Rs 5 as a part of the Mukhya Mantri Dal Bhaat Yojna in Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Dumka and Palamu.
Jharkhand is one of the states providing low-cost meal to the urban poor at minimum prices. Following the lines of Amma Canteens in Tamil Nadu, states such as Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Telengana and Rajasthan have come up with Rs 5 per meal for the poor living in towns.
The Mukhya Mantri Dal Bhaat Yojna was first launched by former chief minister Arjun Munda on August 15, 2011. However, the scheme faced several hurdles including fund crunch. It was restarted last year and has been running smoothly since, say officials.
Although these centres were opened to provide meals to BPL families, students and public transport drivers also benefit from it.
The state runs at least 375 dal-bhaat centres that provide rice, dal and soybean to around 60,000 BPL residents across Jharkhand for Rs 5. The proposed mobile vans, which have been named ‘mobile kitchens’, will serve the same purpose but ensure that the beneficiaries don’t have to travel long distances for their meals.
Food and public distribution secretary Vinay Choubey said two such mobile kitchens will be launched in Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad by the end of the year, with one each in Dumka and Palamu. He said the department was aiming to provide a one-time meal to at least 300 people through each van.
“We will outsource the vans to self help groups and NGOs. Even corporates can pitch in under their corporate social responsibility initiatives and help run the vans,” said Choubey. These vans will be provided rice at a subsidised rate of Re 1 per kg and soybean free of cost, he said.
“The vans would go around public places such as bus stands and markets. They will get their daily raw materials from the concerned district supply officer,” said Choubey. The vans will be monitored online, while the deputy commissioner would be responsible for maintaining hygiene, he said.
Officials said that the number of vans will be increased depending on the requirements and reach more cities, towns and villages in the state.
An official actively involved with the team working on the project said that each van will be given 60 kg rice and 3.5 kg soybean every day. An estimated expenditure on each van would be around Rs 500 per day, he said.