It will no longer be decided to amend the prices of food with the Lok Sabha Secretariat for lunch in Parliament House. After much criticism over the canteen being expensive, the government is thinking of working with subsidies. Right now, 48 dishes are on the menu in the canteen. Focusing on quality will also include removing unpopular items. However, no steps have been taken to completely remove non-vegetarian items from the menu.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said, "We hope that the new rates will be finalized between the two parts of the budget session and the revised food rates will be implemented from March."
The subsidy came in the Parliament Canteen operated by Northern Railway during a discussion in a meeting of party leaders headed by Birla in December last year. At least two leaders said that Birla wanted to know how much subsidy is given to the Parliament canteen and how many MPs regularly eat there.
Birla was told that the subsidy for the previous year was Rs 17 crore, but very few MPs had lunch in the canteen during the session.
During an informal conversation with HT last week, the chairman also indicated that some food items could be removed from the revised list because there is limited demand for such items.
From boiled vegetables to saffron baths, the canteen now serves a total of 48 foods for afternoon and evening breakfast. But things like poha, mutton cutlets are not available regularly. According to canteen officials, vegetarian thali (Rs 40) and chapati (Rs 2 each) are the most in-demand food in the Parliament complex.
According to the data available with the Lok Sabha officials, out of the Rs 17 crore subsidy, only Rs 24 lakh was spent in the MPs' account. The rest was spent on food for visitors, security personnel, government officials and journalists covering Parliament. During a session, an average of 4,500 people dines in Parliament every day.
In 2015, a canteen meal was available for Rs 29, which was widely criticized, when this proposal was brought. There will be an annual savings of about 17 crores on waiving subsidy on food in the canteen of Parliament.
Since then those prices have been increased. Now, fruit salad is sold for Rs 10 while chicken curry costs Rs 50. Masala Dosa costs 20 rupees.
The official also said that so far no vendor has been finalized to replace Northern Railway in the canteen.
A query under the Right to Information Act showed that between 2010 and 2015, the canteen received a subsidy of Rs 60.7 crore.
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