60,000 govt canteens should be set up to feed 3 crore urban migrants: National Institute of Public Finance and Policy

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June 12, 2020 2:45 AM

“Learning from the Covid-19 crisis, we recommend large-scale deployment of state-supported canteens to provide hygienic, affordable and nutritious cooked food thrice a day to all urban migrant workers,” NIPFP said in a study.

The CEEW-NIPFP study on ‘Jobs, Growth and Sustainability: A New Social Contract for India’s Recovery’, has estimated that operating expenses of these canteens could be recovered by charging a meal at just Rs 15.The CEEW-NIPFP study on ‘Jobs, Growth and Sustainability: A New Social Contract for India’s Recovery’, has estimated that operating expenses of these canteens could be recovered by charging a meal at just Rs 15.

The National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), a centre for research in public economics and policies, has suggested deployment of around 60,000 state-supported canteens to provide three meals a day to approximately 30 million migrant workers in urban areas.

“Learning from the Covid-19 crisis, we recommend large-scale deployment of state-supported canteens to provide hygienic, affordable and nutritious cooked food thrice a day to all urban migrant workers. This would require capital infusion of about Rs 26,500 crore for an estimated 60,000 canteens and 8,200 kitchens,” NIPFP said in a study prepared in association with the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

The CEEW-NIPFP study on ‘Jobs, Growth and Sustainability: A New Social Contract for India’s Recovery’, has estimated that operating expenses of these canteens could be recovered by charging a meal at just Rs 15.

“Each canteen serving meals to 500 beneficiaries could employ 20 people on average, generating 1.2 million jobs to serve the 30 million migrant workers. This will also initiate demand for diversification of food production through assured procurement,” the report, released by minister for road transport and highways and MSME Nitin Gadkari, said.

NIPFP’s governing body comprises representatives of the finance ministry, the Reserve Bank of India, sponsoring state governments, distinguished economist and heads of three sister research institutions. Vijay Kelkar, former chairman of the 13th Finance Commission, is the chairman of NIPFP’s governing body.

The CEEW-NIPFP study said while stoppage of supply networks, as a result of lockdown, has deprived a significant proportion of urban poor, especially informal workers and daily wage labourers, of access to affordable and nutritious food; government’s relief measure under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) provided support to 800 million poor people, but it is imperative for India to systematically enhance food security of citizens.

It also suggested that the government should work with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) to provide preferential ‘post-harvest management’ loans to farmers and Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) to procure low-cost, energy-efficient, and preferably, renewable energy-powered technologies.

“Equally important is securing India’s water sources, which are in severe distress from decades of apathetic governance, inadequate budgetary allocations, archaic processes and technologies, and institutional mismanagement. The Covid-19 crisis has underscored the scarcity of clean water in the country, with millions of people having no recourse to even wash their hands,” the report said.

For the MSME sector, the think tank proposes creation of a nationwide, centralised digital platform, MISHRII: MSME Information System for Holistic and Real-time Identification, Incentives and Support. MISHRII would collect data on the size, distribution, and economic contribution of MSMEs and their workers to the national output, and seed details such as occupation, days of employment and monthly income into their Aadhaar-linked profiles. It also recommended the development of a vulnerability assessment framework of MSME sector.

The CEEW-NIPFP study said India’s auto sector could help the nation become more energy secure and sustainable. CEEW estimates that we could save Rs 45,210 crore of oil import bill each year by 2030 if 30% of car sales were of electric cars. Biofuels could also elevate this sector.

A good scrapping policy could make us a global auto hub, recycling copper, steel, rubber and plastic, thus reducing cost of capital and spare parts, and increasing the reuse of resources.

The CEEW-NIPFP study also finds that there are opportunities in emerging sectors such as distributed renewable energy, hybrid energy, emergency and disaster management systems, city gas distribution and urban transportation.

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