Maharashtra: Rs 10 meals for poor rolled out, ‘will help those left jobless by Centre’s failures’

The Maharashtra government on January 26 rolled out its Shiv Bhojan scheme, which provides meals for Rs 10, at various places in Maharashtra, including 17 spots in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

In Mumbai, the scheme will run at six civic hospitals, apart from some government establishments.

At the BYL Nair hospital in Mumbai Central, the scheme was rolled out by state cabinet minister for textile, fisheries and port development, Aslam Shaikh. Shaikh said, “Through this scheme, even those left jobless owing to the Centre’s failures will not sleep hungry.”

The other hospitals are Sir King Edward Memorial Hospital (Parel), Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital (Sion), VN Desai Hospital (Santacruz), RN Cooper Hospital (Juhu) and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Memorial Hospital (Byculla).

The Shiv Bhojan scheme is a part of the common minimum program of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

A seating capacity for 25 has been reserved for its beneficiaries at the staff canteen at BYL Nair hospital. They can avail of the meals between 12-2 pm. The thalis, which cost about Rs 50, will be given to people at a nominal rate of Rs 10, while the remaining Rs 40 will be subsidised by the state government.

Soon after Shaikh inaugurated the scheme, relatives of patients occupied the demarcated area and were served hot thalis with two chapatis, daal, a bowl of vegetable and rice. Within the next 30 minutes, said Narayan Pujari, who runs the staff canteen, at least 150 thalis were distributed, above the 100-mark.

Sharda Prajapati (60), who has been commuting to Nair hospital from Kandivali for the past week for her husband’s treatment, said, “The auto fare from my house to the station is Rs 15, so going home for food is not an option. Spending Rs 50 everyday on food from outside is not possible either. Now, at least, one will not have to wait hungry.”

Under the initiative, about 18,000 thalis will be distributed every day through 125 centres across the state. The scheme is being implemented on a pilot basis for the next three months, after which it will be reviewed.

“It provides a balanced diet. Any compromise on the quality of the food will not be tolerated,” said Shaikh, addressing the crowd at the hospital.

The scheme is Maharashtra’s version of Tamil Nadu’s Amma canteens, which provide food to the needy at heavily subsidised rates.

Subsidised food canteens have been a success in many states, with Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh launching their own variations of the Amma canteens.