Rs-5 meal idea mocked in hospitals

Rs-5 meal idea mocked in hospitals

 Forget the availability of a meal for Rs 5 in Delhi, as claimed by Congress leader Rasheed Masood. Even Raj Babbar’s claim of food available for Rs 12 a plate in Mumbai is a distant dream at the government hospitals in Delhi, where food is provided at a subsidy in the canteens.

A reality check by Deccan Herald in the capital’s public hospitals on Saturday found that a person needs to shell out an average of Rs 80 daily to focus on treatment instead of worrying about daily food.

Since a meal for Rs 5 seemed ridiculous, considering that a glass of water at the stalls cost Rs 2 and a couple of sips of tea in mini-cups cost Rs 5, we decided to look for a meal costing Rs 15 in order to give us flexibility and some choice. Since filling the stomach was a priority, taste, nutrition and hygiene was not even on the radar.

The public canteen at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital offered almost nothing for this paltry sum. Only a bread “pakoda” and a cup of tea could be bought for this amount. A “thali” consisting of rice, four “chapatis”, vegetables and watery “dal” cost Rs 30.

“Ask the government to bring down our rent from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 200, and then we will think of providing you meals for Rs 10,” was the rude response of Ashu, the manager of the canteen.

We were met with mockery each time we asked anyone for an eatery within our budget.

At the Swami Dayanand Hospital, we were in for a ruder shock. There was no provision for a formal canteen, and patients and their relatives had to make do with a small stall that offered patties, burgers and sandwiches. The cheapest item were patties at Rs 10 apiece.

AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital in south Delhi, which draw the most patients, were no better. A meal at AIIMS, with a couple of floating nutrelas and watery “dal”, cost Rs 25.

It must be mentioned here that most of these hospitals had much better canteens for the staff, with cheaper food.

The canteen at GB Pant Hospital in central Delhi had meals, but they were way beyond our budget. A plate of only “dal” and rice cost Rs 20. More decent meals cost Rs 30-40.

Finally we found some relief at the Lok Nayak Hospital, where four tiny “pooris” and some vegetables could be obtained for Rs 10 and a meal with rice for Rs 20.

“I am happy for my cousin who is admitted to hospital. At least he gets free meals,” said Raj Babu, relative of a patient admitted at the hospital.

Even the basic two-time tea, a breakfast, lunch and dinner costs Babu Rs 80 every day. “Even after that I have to gulp down loads of water,” he said.

We finally had a meal consisting of some rice, “dal”, vegetables and two “chapatis” available within our budget at the Jan Aahar stall outside the hospital and returned to the hospital to top it up with glasses of water.

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