Cannot supply food to Indira canteens: hotels

Govt's proposal not feasible, say hoteliers' associations

Cannot supply food to Indira canteens: hotels

The proposed Indira canteens have hit a new hurdle with two major hoteliers’ associations conveying to the Karnataka government that they cannot supply food for the proposed outlets as it is not feasible for them from the economic point of view.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had set aside Rs 100 crore in the budget for 2017-18 to establish Indira canteens in the 198 wards of Bengaluru. It is almost designed on the lines of Amma canteens of Tamil Nadu. It is supposed to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner at an affordable price.

Initially, the government had been in talks with Iskcon for supply of food to these canteens. The government wants garlic and onion in the food. But, Iskcon expressed its inability to use both in its preparations. Later, the government approached two major hoteliers’ associations. 

The hoteliers’ associations are not interested in the offer made by the government. For them, it is a conflict of interest. Any involvement in running the canteens including supply of food will mean affecting their own business interest, they say. This despite the government stating that it will reimburse the expenses and also ensure the hoteliers make profit.

Bruhat Bengaluru Hotels’ Association, with around 2,000 hotels in BBMP region as its members, was approached by the Food and Civil Supplies Department to supply food to the canteens. The 81-year-old association, which is one of the oldest in Karnataka, has outright rejected the proposal.

“We have our own problems. Catering is not an easy task. There is shortage of manpower. So, we rejected it,”  Association President B Chandrashekar Hebbar said.
Hebbar said the hoteliers were asked to provide details like quantity and ingredients that will be going into the food preparations and also their rate chart. However, the association did not respond.

Karnataka Pradesh Hoteliers’ and Restaurants’ Association, which is an umbrella organisation comprising hoteliers’ associations in all districts, too has rejected the government offer. Its president M Rajendra, like Hebbar, has said it is not financially viable to supply prepared food.

Besides, he said the concept of providing subsidised food itself is flawed. “Any government should help the poor stand up on their own. They should feel proud that they are earning. They should not be made to depend on any freebies,”  Rajendra said.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister U T Khader said the reason his department approached the hoteliers was to utilise their expertise. “We had explained to them that their business will not be affected as the canteens are meant not to wean away their regular customers but for the poor,” Khader said. 

He said the government is not banking only on the hoteliers for supplies. “Many NGOs, youth associations and even individuals have come forward showing interest in the scheme. We will talk to them soon.”

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