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In Gujarat, government canteens to offer meals to labourers at Rs 10

Some 25,000 labourers will be covered through 83 stalls set up across the state. The government plans to cover over five lakh registered labourers in the future.

india Updated: Jul 19, 2017 07:30 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
Gujarat,Amma Canteen,Subsidised food
Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani offers food to a labourer at the inaugural event of Shramik Annapurna Yojana in Ahmedabad on July 18.(PTI Photo)

Poll-bound Gujarat has joined the likes of Tamil Nadu,Odisha and Rajasthan by coming out with its own version of canteens for providing meals to the poor at a highly subsidised rate.

Under the Shamik Annapurna Yojna launched on Tuesday, labourers will be provided a meal per day at Rs 10. This is probably the first of its kind scheme for labourers, especially the homeless who do not have fuel and utensils for cooking.

The meal – five rotis, mixed vegetable, rice, pickles and green chilies (and desert on Sundays) – will be served through saffron-coloured stalls. These stalls are at spots near various kadiyanakas (labourer markets).

For the time being, some 25,000 labourers will be covered through 83 stalls set up across the state. The government plans to cover over five lakh registered labourers in the future.

“No government in the past 60 years thought about addressing issues like the daily food requirement of labourers. Our government has taken an initiative,” chief minister Vijay Rupani, who served piping hot meals to workers at a stall in Narol area of Ahmedabad, said.

Each stall has six attendants. While two of them – donning apron, hand gloves and cap – are there to prepare and serve food, the job of two others is to check identity cards and collect cash from the beneficiaries. The other two attendants will be managing crowds.

Beneficiaries have to produce an identity card, either Aadhaar or voter card, and get themselves registered with the stall from which they wish to buy food every day.

“NGOs have been roped in to prepare the meal. This will also help us to maintain the quality,” said an official from the Labour and Employment department.

The BJP government in Gujarat will seek a sixth-term in assembly elections scheduled later this year. Subsidised canteens called ‘Amma Canteens’ launched by former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa proved to be hugely popular and earned her immense political goodwill.

Subsidised meal schemes have been introduced in other states since then, including Odisha where chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s ‘Aahar’ canteens have also been a big hit. Critics, however, say such welfare measures are non-productive and are a big drain on the exchequer.

First Published: Jul 19, 2017 07:30 IST