The Congress government’s flagship project, Indira Canteen, could face closure as the BBMP claims that no funds are being released by the state government, despite multiple letters. Indira Canteen, the inauguration of the first of which was done by Rahul Gandhi, was one of the pet projects of former CM Siddaramiah. Announcing the cash-crunch which could result in the cessation of the scheme, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike(BBMP) commissioner, Manjunath Prasad said, ‘This year, in 2019-20, since this is a state governmantt project, we had asked for Rs 210 crore budget but so far, this government has not released it. We had written two letters to the government but have not received any response so far, and now I have informed the council that we will have to discontinue the scheme’.
The BBMP claims that since this was a project initiated and funded by the then state government, the local municipal body has not earmarked funds for the same. The budgetary allocations were not included at the commencement of this fiscal year, thus including it now is not possible, they claim. Indira Canteens, modelled around the Amma Canteens in Tamilnadu, were started in 2017 to provide subsidised meals. Breakfast in these canteens are priced at Rs 5 and lunch, dinner at Rs 10.
BBMP, over the last two years, has started over 174 Indira Canteens along with 15 mobile canteens. CM Yediyurappa has ordered a probe into the alleged financial misappropriation in running of Indira Canteens. The government claims that the contractors supplying food at Indira Canteens have been providing bills for over Rs 6.8 crores every month and that it is inconsistent with the record sheets.
A political fight has broken out over the negative limelight over Congress’ pet project with KPCC president calling the decision to probe by CM BSY as ‘politics of hate’. Dinesh Gundurao had threatened that if the subsidy scheme is discontinued, then the Congress party will protest on the streets of Bengaluru against the ‘anti-poor policies’, and added, ‘the BJP is targeting Indira Canteens because it is providing food for the economically weaker sections of the society’. Siddaramiah too attacked CM Yediyurappa in a series of tweets. The BJP has defended its decision as an administerial one, claiming that rampant corruption in the running of the canteens resulted in ordering a probe and there is no political motive to be attributed to the same.
Mr. @BSYBJP,— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) August 28, 2019
Is your tummy so full that you are ignorant about poor man's hunger?
Does your party cater to only elites' appetite?
We shall never tolerate any attempt to axe down Indira Canteen.
.@BJP4Karnataka govt is on a spree to downsize or destroy pro-people schemes & policies. It was Anna Bhagya then & Indira Canteen now. The decision on Anna Bhagya was withdrawn after our threat against any such move. Our stand on Indira Canteen will not be any different.— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) August 28, 2019
More than 3 lakh meals are served each day in BBMP limits alone. A program that has alleviated hunger of many marginalized sections who are the victims of social & economic injustices.— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) August 28, 2019
Any attempt to target the Canteens will worsen Urban Poverty & poor families' livelihood.
Karnataka govt budget is more than ₹2.3 lakh Cr & Is @BSYBJP finding it so difficult to accommodate Indira Canteen program by providing just ₹300-400Cr?— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) August 28, 2019
If the needy is not entitled for subsidized food, even the privileged representatives should be denied of subsidies.