Fate of Amma Canteens hang in balance

As per the records, the Chennai Corporation has incurred a loss of more than Rs. 700 crore since the scheme launched in the 2013-2014 financial year. Surprisingly, the income from the canteens has been decreasing over the years despite the number of canteens being increased to 407 from 207.
Representative image
Representative image

CHENNAI: The fate of Amma Canteens in the city hangs in balance as the state government is divesting the responsibility of funding the canteens as agreed earlier and directed the civic body to run the canteens using CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Fund.

According to a Chennai Corporation source, the Amma Canteen Foundation, which was mooted by the previous government, is yet to be formed. "Already a government order has been issued pertaining to the formation of the canteens. But no headway. The government has decided to back away from funding the canteens, " the source said.

Under the Amma Canteen Foundation, the civic body would collect CSR fund from corporate firms, donations from volunteers and other contributions, and the remaining expenses would be adjusted by the government.

"Once the Foundation formed, civic body need not to fund the canteens. But, the government us yet to give commitment of providing fund if CSR contributions could not meet the expenses, " the source said.

The source explained that without the government's commitment and Corporation's contribution, the canteens could not be run.

As per the records, the Chennai Corporation has incurred a loss of more than Rs. 700 crore since the scheme launched in the 2013-2014 financial year. Surprisingly, the income from the canteens has been decreasing over the years despite the number of canteens being increased to 407 from 207.

The order issued in 2021 (pertaining to the Foundation) pointed out that Amma Canteens in the city had accrued a loss of Rs. 483.75 crore between 2013-2014 and 2018-2019 financial years. While the expenditure for the six years stands at Rs. 668.61 Crore, the civic body had managed to earn only Rs. 184.86 Crore from sales due to the lower cost of food items being sold at the canteens.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, MLAs belong to AIADMK (of previous government) undertook to provide fund to Amma Canteens so that the canteens provide food at free of cost. "Two former MLAs are yet to give the funds and they owe Rs. 50 lakh to the civic body, " the source added.

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