Contractors struggle as they find no possibility of the government releasing funds for Indira canteens.
Indira canteens have been running without funds since April 2020. Due to unpaid bills by the BBMP, contractors have been arranging for funds to maintain these kitchens as well as for paying the canteen staff salaries.
For funds, Cheftalk ltd has been taking loans to arrange for expenses since ten months.
“Salaries and infrastructure come under the monthly bills. We arranged funds for a few months but since two months we haven’t been able to collect enough funds to give salaries to our staff,’’ says Govinda Poojare, founder of Cheftalk services.
The BBMP has been allotting the tender for 94 canteens to Cheftalk since three years. But with time, it is becoming difficult for the catering company to arrange funds in order to make the subsidized food chain survive for long.
The Indira canteen chain that started with the sole purpose of providing the poor section of the society with subsidized cooked meals is now waiting for funds to clear its bills worth Rs. 22crs, as per Vinod, the Managing Head.
‘‘Each canteen serves around 400 customers a day and the footprint has increased since the lockdown got eased, but with low maintenance and no funds, how long will this food drive live?,’’ adds Vinod.
Contractors allotted with the tender have been requesting the BBMP to pay the dues in order to pay its staff. But due to no response, employees have to go through a tough time. In his statement regarding salaries, Pinjare Shafeullah said, “Due to the usual delay in salary payments, staff has no option other than quitting the job”. Due to no payment, water supply to these canteens has been stopped by the BWSSB and as mentioned by Vinod S, the water has to be brought through tankers to be used for washing and drinking purposes.
In its defence to the whole issue, Bharat, a BBMP Official quoted that, “We have requested the government to give a provision for a Rs 220 cr fund in its upcoming budget.’’
The State budget 2021 came out and brought further no provision for Indira canteens leaving the people who depend on these canteens for food at a standstill.