These canteens sell idly (Re 1 per piece), pongal (Rs 3 per serving), pre-mixed rice varieties (sambar, tomato, lemon, curry leaves) priced at Rs 5 except ‘curd’ priced at Rs 3 and chapatis (Rs 3 for a plate of 2 pieces), at prescribed timing and until the day’s stocks last.
Launched five years ago by Jayalalithaa, the success of the model was such that Congress president Rahul Gandhi referred to a similar budget canteen he launched as Amma canteen. The replica model was christened as ‘Indra Canteens’ after former Prime Minister Indra Gandhi.
Dubbed a runaway success model offering quality food at affordable rates for the needy, it is now learnt to have been reeling under losses.
The probe into the sorry state of affairs in Amma Canteens came to light when Finance Secretary K Shanmugam was asked to explain whether the state had trimmed down its subsidy to Amma Canteens.
Shanmugam, who was briefing on the budget, dismissed the allegation and assured that the state was continuing its support to the project.
“The state had been supplying rice free of cost. The other essential items including dal are supplied at a rate on par with the price meant for Public Distribution Scheme. The administration and control of canteens is vested with the local bodies,” he said.
The original projections on the model as submitted by Municipal Administration did not estimate any loss in the operations of the canteen, said Shanmugam. “We are carrying out a separate study on as to how the operations incur loss. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami too had insisted that we probe into the loss and come up with corrective measures for smooth operations of the scheme,” Shanmugam noted.