BENGALURU: Post state assembly election, former Chief Minister Siddaramiah’s pet project — the Indira Canteens across the State — seems to have taken a back seat. Of the total 263 Indira Canteens in Karnataka (excluding those in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike limits), which were supposed to open by end of June, only 72 are functional now.
Last year, the then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had floated the idea of Indira Canteens to woo the urban poor with subsidized food with an eye on the4 assembly polls.
In August 2017, Indira canteen services started in Bengaluru and at present, there are more than 180 Indira Canteens in the city. At a few places where there was no land, Indira Mobile canteens were launched. At these establishments, breakfast is served for Rs 5, and lunch and dinner for Rs 10.
After the project became popular in the state capital, Siddaramiah announced extending the same across Karnataka.
Initially, they announced starting 300 canteens — one canteen per one lakh population. Later, it was finalised at 263 locations (excluding Bengaluru).
“We were given targets to complete all 263 canteens by June-end 2018. But there was a delay at some places for various reasons, including land availability. Then there were the state assembly elections, which delayed works further,’’ sources from Urban Development said.
A senior official from the department told The New Indian Express that out of 263 canteens, construction work on Indira Canteens at 136 places were completed. But as kitchens were not ready at many places, out of 136 canteens, only 72 canteens were operational.
“Thus apart construction work on 37 canteens is going on, which is expected to be completed in the next ten days. While construction work at 90 locations has not started yet,’’ the official said.
Funds to the tune of Rs 211.24 crores have been released to the Urban Development Department, and there is no shortage on that front.
Indira Canteens are one of the popular projects of Congress government led by Siddaramiah. Now that there is change of guard in Vidhana Soudha, this is also stated to be one of the reasons for the delay.
Urban Development Minister UT Khader said during election time, work was completely stopped for three months and that too led to delays.
He, however, agreed there was some delay in procuring land for construction of canteens and kitchens, without which canteens cannot function. “We are going to call a review meeting with the officials concerned and this will be sorted out,’’ he said.