Idli for Re 1: Jayalalithaa dishes out budget canteens in Tamil Nadu

Written by fe Bureau | Updated: Feb 20 2013, 15:15pm hrs
JayaJayalalithaa suddenly woke up to the fact that the way to people's hearts is through their stomach.
Drawing flak for long power cuts in the state, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa suddenly woke up to the fact that the way to people's hearts is through their stomach. And that was the trigger for the birth of budget canteens.

The chief minister on Tuesday rolled out 15 budget canteens where popular South Indian dishes, such as idli and other items, are available at cheaper rates. These canteens are meant to benefit daily wage labourers and others earning substantially low wages.

The Chennai Corporation had proposed opening 200 such canteens in the near future that will function from 7 am to 10 pm. In those canteens, the prices of idli and various cooked rice items have been fixed between Rs 1 and Rs 5. The scheme will be implemented through local women's self-help groups (SHGs), according to a government release.

The canteens will be run by the Chennai Corporation. A committee headed by the city health officer will oversee the operation.

Overall, a total of 1,000 such canteens have been planned across the city, with the first phase of the project entailing setting up of 200 centres, one for each ward under the Chennai Corporation limits.

The canteens would serve idlis at R1 per piece, sambar rice at R5 per plate and curd rice at R3 per plate. The decision to set up these centres had been announced by the state government on January 13, after Jayalalithaa gave her nod. She had also ordered the allocation of 500 metric tonne of rice to the Chennai Corporation for use in these centres.

The move is aimed at providing cheap and healthy food to people from the lower economic segments, who are unable to cater to their nutritional needs because of their low income. A number of manual labourers, including migrant ones, and slum dwellers are expected to benefit from the initiative.