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Monday, December 21, 2009

In Parliament House canteen, delectable dishes don’t act pricey

THE TRIBUNE





I WONDER : THEY DO DESERVE GOOD FOOD, BUT WHO PAYS THE DIFFERENCE ?



Can you imagine a vegetarian thali lunch for Rs 12.50 or a small bowl of dal at Rs 1.50, and chapatis for a rupee each at a time when the prices of essential commodities are touching the sky? 


Yes it is possible, even if food is getting out of the reach of the poor in the country. Welcome to the Parliament House canteen.


A series of catering units run by Indian Railways at Parliament House, including the library and the annexe building, serve food at rates that are a good decade old but are hard to digest for a newcomer.


The MPs, who are seen shouting at each other and castigating the government over the rising food prices, definitely relish the cheap canteen food. But, mind you, the facility is not for them only. Parliament staff, low-paid security personnel and accredited journalists too enjoy the delicacies at rates that an ordinary citizen outside cannot even think of.


Where does this come from? Remember, behind the cheap commodity there is a subsidy. All this costs the government a huge amount of tax payers' money.


The gap between the actual cost and what the MPs, journalists and others have to pay, is bridged with a food budget set aside by Parliament.


“Over Rs.5.3 crore has been allocated during the current financial year for the canteens. The Lok Sabha pays some Rs.3.55 crore and the Rajya Sabha shares the amount to over Rs.1.77 crore," said an official.


“Not only MPs, we serve food to everybody who is allowed inside Parliament. They also include workers, gardeners and labourers," the official told IANS, defending the low prices. The food prices were last revised in 2004.


A 15-member joint parliamentary committee on food management headed by then MP K Yerranaidu of the Telugu Desam Party was constituted in 2005 to consider revision of the rates and the service.


“The committee didn't give any report and the rates were not revised," the official said. — IANS

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