Based on the highly popular model of Amma Unavagam, meaning Mother’s Restaurant, launched by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, is also planning to commence a food subsidisation program in Delhi. The program aims at providing good quality, hygienic, and nutritious food at subsidised rates, thus making it within the reach of the common man, especially the lower strata of the society.
The “Delhi Dialogue Commission” (DDC) has been constituted to conceive new ideas and identify existing good practices for the betterment of Delhi. The DDC has drafted a proposal towards the launch of Aam Aadmi Canteen and Kejriwal has approved the proposal, setting the ball rolling for implementation.
Proposed Salient Features of Aam Aadmi Canteen
Aam Aadmi Canteens will have the following features as per DDC Vice Chairman Ashish Khetan:
The canteens will be under the Food and Civil Supplies Department and will be located near industrial areas and commercial hubs so as to reach out to the maximum number of people in the BPL zone.
• The management of the canteens will be outsourced to NGOs and private agencies for quality assurance purposes.
• Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be sold at reasonable rates with the maximum amount being Rs.10.
• RO (Reverse Osmosis) mechanism will be adopted in all the canteens to ensure clean and safe drinking water. The menu will have variety and be nutritious.
• Ten lakh construction workers, five lakh street hawkers and over four lakh slum dwellers in the capital as well as students and office-going population are being targeted.
• Possible expenditure of the government in this scheme is still unclear, but a road map is being worked out based on the expenditure of 65 crore spent annually to run 225 Amma canteens in Tamil Nadu.
• Each canteen is expected to cater towards 3,000 to 5,000 people on a daily basis.
Advantages of Government Run Canteens
• The subsidy here is direct and thus the chance of corruption is much lesser and the poor, especially women and children, stand to benefit from it.
• Keeping in mind the fact that the cost of food in India has increased by 5.48 percent in June 2015, this scheme will surely help contain the food inflation.
• This scheme will help the core problems that the poor in India face – malnutrition and starvation.
Unfortunately, some good deeds also come along with a few negative side effects. Some of them related to this scheme would be:
• There are many poor people in Delhi who are running food stalls to earn a livelihood. The Aam Aadmi canteens would come as a competition and deterrent to them.
• Corruption in the form of food for sale to the poor being given to bureaucrats free of cost may become prevalent.
The idea to launch a subsidised meal program through canteens though not novel is indeed commendable. The Government of Delhi by taking measures like transparency and involvement of the poor through employment in the same project can surely find a success story in the Aam Aadmi Canteen venture.