Karnataka: Unhygienic surroundings leave Indira canteens in a bad taste

In a hurry to open Indira Canteens, on the lines of Amma Canteens in Tamil Nadu, state government is not giving a thought to the surroundings of the canteens.

Some of the Indira canteens are located in places that are unhygienic and dirty while some others are coming up in playgrounds and parks.
BENGALURU: Forty-year-old Lakshmi VN sells vegetables at the Murphy Town market for a living. When she learnt about the Indira Canteen project -the prospect of good food at subsidised rates -she was happy, hoping she would save more money. Then she realised that the canteen would come up bang in the middle of the meat market.

In a hurry to open Indira Canteens, on the lines of Amma Canteens in Tamil Nadu, ahead of state elections, the state government is not giving a thought to the surroundings in which these canteens are coming up. Some of them are located in places that are unhygienic and dirty while some others are coming up in playgrounds and parks.

The canteen in Murphy town will be surrounded by at least twenty stalls selling chicken, fish, mutton and beef. "Does it make sense for the BBMP to build a canteen in a place that stinks? Even a non-vegetarian will mind before coming to the canteen," Om Prakash, a retired army man and resident, said.

In the constituency of Bengaluru development minister KJ George, a canteen is being built right next to an open drain, close to the KHB colony. "We protested demanding a change of place but the officials were adamant. When we suggested better places, they complained that it was difficult to take pre-cast structures there," P Kireetappa, a member of Ling arajapuram Welfare Association, said.

It's the similar case in Basavanagudi where the canteen faces the open drain.

Kishore Kumar, a resident of Koramangala 5th Block, was unhappy that a canteen is coming up below a high-tension line and next to a garbage bin. "I wish the officials find a better place than this," he said.
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NR Ramesh, former BJP corporator, said the BBMP is using space in at least 20 parks and playgrounds for the canteen. "It's against the Karnataka Parks, Play Fields and Open Spaces (Preservation and Regulation) Act, 1985. We will approach court," he said.

Besides destroying playgrounds and parks, Ramesh alleged that the palike is using temple and government hospital premises in Rajajinagar, Banashankari, CV Raman Nagar, Jeevan Bima Nagar, Pulikeshinagar, Shantinagar, Shivajinagar, Padmanabha nagar and Chamarajpet for the canteen.

In all, the city municipal corporation is building one canteen in each of the 198 wards and one kitchen in each of the 28 assembly constituen cies. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has set the target to complete 125 canteens for the Independence Day.

The BBMP has also invited the wrath of citizens for cutting down trees in Malleswaram, Vijayanagar, JP Nagar and Jayanagar.
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DS Rajshekar, president of Citizens' Action Forum, said the government did not consult the local people while implementing the project. "The palike has neither conducted a survey nor involved citizens," he said.

BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad maintained that no park or playground space was used for the canteen. "The locations were picked by the councillors, MLAs and BBMP officers. Work has started for 140 canteens and locations are finalised for another 40 canteens.We are facing issue for the remaining 14-15 canteens in terms of land.We will purchase private land for the purpose," he said.
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