CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government will soon open 500 Kalaignar Unavagams (Kalaignar Canteens) in addition to the 650 Amma Unavagams (Amma Canteens) already functioning in the State, TN Food Minister R Sakkarapani announced on Thursday. The DMK government sought 100 per cent assistance from the Union government to run these canteens.
Speaking at a meeting convened by the Union Food and Public Distribution Minister at New Delhi, Sakkarapani acknowledged how the Amma Canteen scheme, launched by former CM late J Jayalalithaa in 2013, has benefitted the poor. He said the canteens, which will be opened soon, would be named after Kalaignar, an honorific title for former chief minister late M Karunanidhi.
He said until September 2021, 3,227 metric tonnes of rice and 362 tonnes of wheat were used under this scheme. Approximately Rs 3.50 lakh is spent per kitchen per month.“To run this scheme and sustain it successfully, we request the Union government to provide 100 per cent assistance under the National Food Security Act, 2013 to extend its benefits to all,” he said.
Two cr benefitted from Amma canteen: Minister
Over the past few years the scheme has faced a fund crunch. In 2020 the State government said it would form a special purpose vehicle to finance it. The Amma canteens, named for a term used to address Jayalalithaa, were an immediate success. The scheme has been replicated in a few other States. Following this, the Jayalalithaa government introduced a series of Amma Brand schemes, including Amma Mineral Water and Amma Salt.
Stating that the TN government has been running 650 Amma Unavagams through local bodies to provide hygienic food at a subsidised prices to the poor, Sakkarapani said these canteens are located at government hospitals near the district headquarters to help the attendants of patients and outpatients. These canteens provide one idly for Rs 1, pongal for Rs 5, variety rice for Rs 5, and curd rice for Rs 3 during the day and two chapathis with dal for Rs 3 in the evenings.
Sakkarapani said from June 1 to November 18, more than 2.15 crore people benefitted from these kitchens. Apart from this, 30,490 construction workers, including migrant labourers, have also benefitted in the same period. “During the Corona period and in times of natural calamities, food was served free of cost at these canteens,” he said.
The Minister requested the Centre to concede with the TN government’s request to deposit one lakh metric tonne of custom milled raw rice with neighbouring States through the Food Corporation of India in exchange for an equal quantity of boiled rice every month.
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100% Central aid sought
Minister Sakkarapani requested the Union government to provide 100% assistance under the National Food Security Act, 2013, to run and sustain Kalaignar Unavagams
‘Canteen helps patients’
Sakkarapani said Amma Unavagams are also located at government hospitals near the district headquarters to help the attendants of patients and outpatients