Saviruchi canteen mired in problems

Saviruchi canteen, a mobile canteen in the city which was introduced by the state government to empower women at the grassroots level, is emerging as a bane more than a boon for the women beneficiaries owing to the lack of profit.

Dhanalakshmi Poojary, a beneficiary who is the president of Chaitanya Sthree Shakthi Ookkuta in the district, told DH that the programme is immensely beneficial and also a good imitative taken by the government. Sadly, there are also other considerations to be looked into.

She said that the mobile canteen is surely a better business when the scope of profit-making opportunities is available.

She said, “Initially, we were six members. Now, it has come down to four. The women who come from different villages gather at around 9 am after the household work and start their business. They offer breakfast with tea and coffee. In the afternoon, the vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals are served at a very reasonable price. All the delicacies are homemade and hygiene and cleanliness is maintained.”

Dhanalakshmi said that the customers who come to eat are only a few. Initially, they would take the vehicle all over. Owing to losses, they decided to park the vehicle at the district government maternity and child hospital, where they get regular customers. The business is very low. In the first six months, they are given support to pick up the business and they need not repay the amount they borrowed in the form of a loan. They are supported by the government which provides Rs 10 lakh as loan without interest.

The canteen was started on April 24. Dhanalakshmi said that they have to pay Rs 15,000 every month in 66 instalments and Rs 10,000 in the last instalment.

The Rs 15,000 is a heavy amount to be paid in a month as the business is very low. The amount collected every day will be somewhere between Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000. After buying the raw materials for cooking, bearing the fuel expenses and payment for the women who work, there remains nothing. Sometimes, the amount would be insufficient. She said it is highly impossible to pay Rs 15,000 per month and demanded that the monthly instalment amount should be reduced.

The vegetarian meal is served at Rs 30, while the non-vegetarian meal ranges from Rs 30 to Rs 60. Adding to their woes is the fact that the vehicle which she (Ookkuta) purchased by paying Rs 6 lakh has leakages all over. Once the rain starts, water pours in from the roof. The women cannot sit inside as it is full of water.

“When we ask the dealer to repair it, they charge for the repair. I am already worried over repayment of the loan amount. How can I pay for the repair charges?” said Dhanalakshmi.

The district has many Saviruchi canteens at other places too.

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