Parliament canteen prices go up, but meal still a cheap deal
The canteen prices have been decided on a no-profit, no-loss basis and will also ensure zero wastage. A vending machine for tea/coffee is being introduced as well for the first time
A new year has meant new and higher rates at the Parliament canteen that has often drawn criticism for subsidized food prices for members of both the Houses. Following the Lok Sabha Speaker’s approval to abolish subsidy on food sold at the canteen, the new rates took effect on Friday, shooting numbers up by about 50%.
The new rates have been determined to ensure a no-profit, no-loss expense for the canteen.
“Prices of all items have been increased by 50-70%,” Parliament food committee chairman Jithendra Reddy told Hindustan Times on Thursday.
However, this price rise means a meal of mutton biriyani would still cost one under Rs 100, while a non-vegetarian curry costs between Rs 30 to Rs 45. The same meal at private establishments usually costs one an average of Rs 200. A food jaunt in Old Delhi is likely to cost even cheaper.
In comparison to the earlier rates though, one will be forking out an average Rs 20 more on meals and Rs 1 more for tea and coffee.
Top sources told HT the food committee had initially proposed raising the prices of only a few items, but Speaker Sumitra Mahajan sought a wholesale revision.
Lok Sabha member Baijayant Jay Panda had initially suggested the move in a letter to the Speaker in July 2015 calling for an end to the subsidy scheme. Panda said in light of the government urging voluntary surrender of LPG subsidies by those who could afford it, MPs giving up the privilege was “a right step in effecting greater public trust” in lawmakers.
Responding to the news, Panda called it a “great end to 2015”.
An RTI query recently revealed that the canteen, run by the Northern Railways catering service, received a subsidy of Rs 60.70 crore in the last five years, despite spiralling food prices.
The decision to hike prices, aside coming years after public criticism over MPs enjoying cheap food, follows the government’s move to shrink the cooking gas subsidy pool on Monday. Now, those earning more than Rs 10 lakh annually are ineligible for the LPG subsidy.
Apart from MPs, the canteen also draws Parliament staff, visitors and journalists. When the House is in session, it serves 4,500 people on average every day.