The Indira Canteen is one of the flagship programmes of the state government, which was launched with much fanfare in the run- up to the last assembly elections in the state.
The project was timely given the malnutrition among the urban poor, especially the working class. But of late the quality of food has been compromised going by lab reports. It is shocking to see that the food has been certified unfit for human consumption. This clearly points to the need for a proper audit immediately of all the Indira canteens.
The very concept of centralised kitchens run by two major corporates transporting food to long distances is not a very good one. Although based on the successful 'Amma Canteen' of neighbouring Tamil Nadu , the Indira Canteen has a lot to learn from it. Unlike the centralised kitchens run by corporates here, the Amma canteens are run by local self- help groups, which besides ensuring quality, provide a livelihood to many women.
What we need in Karnataka is a committee of officials, public health doctors, nutritionists and representatives of urban poor and activists to decide on the menu of the Indira canteens and keep a regular check on the quality of their food. It may be advisable to hand over some of the canteens to the self- help groups on a pilot basis and later hand over the entire programme to them in the interest of the working class, who eat there.
— Vinay Sreenivasa, activist...