Monsoon session of Parliament: Packed food may be served at House canteen

Updated on Sep 04, 2020 08:53 AM IST

Only food packets are likely to be served and the thalis or wide-ranging ala carte dishes might be off the menu for this extraordinary session due to safety reasons

The northern railway-run Indian Parliament usually dishes out sumptuous menu of 48 items at subsidised prices in the Parliament canteens. However, now only food packets will be served during the monsoon session.(HT photo)
The northern railway-run Indian Parliament usually dishes out sumptuous menu of 48 items at subsidised prices in the Parliament canteens. However, now only food packets will be served during the monsoon session.(HT photo)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Indian Parliament’s much-publicised canteen may not dish out its cheap but mouth-watering hot dishes in this monsoon session amid severe restrictions to tackle the pandemic.

Instead, only food packets are likely to be served and the thalis or wide-ranging ala carte dishes might be off the menu for this extraordinary session due to safety reasons, officials involved in the preparations for the session said.

For the past five months, the canteen has only been serving tea and biscuits and its lunch service has been stalled. “It is almost decided not to cook food in the Parliament complex and serve food packets in a bid to reduce entry of people and crowding in Parliament,” said an official.

The northern railway-run Indian Parliament usually dishes out sumptuous menu of 48 items at subsidised prices in the Parliament canteens.

From boiled vegetables to Kesari bhat, the canteen now serves a total of 48 food items for lunch and evening snacks. But items such as poha, mutton cutlet or bonda are not available regularly. According to canteen officials, the vegetarian thali ( 40) and chapaati ( 2) are the most sought-after food in Parliament complex.

According to the data available with officials, out of 17 crore subsidy, only 24 lakh was spent on account of the MPs. The rest was spent on account of visitors, security personnel and officials. During a normal session, an average 4,500 people eat daily at Parliament.

In 2015, then Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had approved a proposal to abolish subsidy on parliament food and run the canteens on a no-profit-no-loss basis. The decision came after years of public criticism that Parliament serves a plate of chicken curry for 29 or dal for just 2.

Now, a fruit salad is sold for 10 while the price of chicken curry is revised to 50. A masala dosa is priced at 20.

But this session will see a far less footfall due to widespread restrictions to ensure that virus doesn’t spread in the Parliament complex. For this session, visitors would not be allowed to enter the complex, staff strength would be reduced and even media entry would be restricted.

“All these measures would also mean that the pressure on canteens would be reduced,” said an official.

Plans are also afoot to replace the northern railway with Indian government’s catering arm ITDC to run the parliament canteen. Some officials said that the monsoon session itself may see ITDC along with the railways start their service on a pilot basis.

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