Bengaluru: They may be a populist gimmick for the Siddaramaiah government, but the Indira Canteens that offer cheap yet nutritious food to the poor, are slowly eating into the business of small time hoteliers and footpath vendors.
While these small vendors sell rice and sambar for Rs 25 to 30, the Indira Canteens offer this for just Rs 10. Rice baths too fall in the same range with the canteens offering them fort Rs 5. While two idlis, including thatte idlis, are served at Rs 15-20 , the canteens sells them for Rs 5.
“We are already starting to feel the heat from the canteens,” said Mr Abdul Aziz, a small time hotelier, whose unit is only a few meters from the Indira Canteen in Chaluvadipalya. Explaining, he points out that his customers too are daily wagers, slumdwellers, domestic workers, auto drivers, cabbies, street hawkers and other small traders, who cannot afford the costly darshinis.
Said one vendor, who runs his hotel near the Indira Canteen at Mysore Circle, “On an average we sell around 100 to 150 plates of breakfast and lunch, while at Indira Canteens they serve 300 plates for every meal and in all serve around 800 to 900 plates a day. In the long run we cannot compete with them as we cannot reduce our prices.”
Other vendors too lament that with the increasing cost of rent and labour, running theri business has become more difficult after the entry of the Indira Canteens.
“The only advantage some vendors like us have is that customers have a taste for chutneys and sambar. We also serve nonvegetarian dishes and ragi balls besides the vegetarian dishes. Only if Indira Canteen’s customers are bored with the regular vegetarian diet will they visit us,” said a vendor from near Shanthala Nagar ward....