Months after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the Infosys Foundation Red Cross Sarai on the PGI campus, the UT Red Cross Society has decided to use the PGI Sarai Kitchen to prepare food for the Annapurna Akshaya Patra meal scheme project. Under the scheme, the Red Cross currently provides food for Rs 10 in the city. The PGI administration, however, said that they were not aware of the UT Red Cross decision to shift the kitchen.
In January 2017, UT Administrator V P Singh Badnore had inaugurated Annapurna Akshaya Patra, a project initiated by the Indian Red Cross Society, Chandigarh, to provide affordable, hygienic food in the city. The Red Cross currently prepares food for the meal scheme at its Sector 11 building.
UT Deputy Commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi confirmed to Chandigarh Newsline on Saturday that the kitchen will be shifted from Sector 11 to the PGI Red Cross Sarai. “The kitchen is approved in the plan [of Sarai],” he said. Asked whether the UT Red Cross had taken the permission of PGI, Joshi replied, “We have not asked PGI about it, but if you think we should inform them, we can.”
Around 3,000-3,500 packets of food are made daily by the Red Cross and then supplied to different parts of the city. Five vans are operating currently in the city to provide food, officials said.
The PGI, however, said that they have been not been informed by the Red Cross officials about their decision to shift the canteen to PGI Sarai. “I am not aware of it. May be the UT administration has contacted some other PGI official or the matter may have not reached me yet,” said PGI Director Dr Jagat Ram, adding that it has to be “assessed” whether the UT Red Cross decision to shift the kitchen to PGI Sarai was appropriate.
Another PGI official said that setting up the Annapurna Akshaya Patra kitchen at PGI Sarai was not in the MoU signed by PGI and UT Red Cross. “A kitchen is there, but only to prepare food for people staying at the Sarai,” he added.
The Sarai, jointly set up by Infosys and UT Red Cross, consists of 300 beds, 36 dormitories and 13 private rooms. While the private rooms have been drawing a good response, the dormitory rooms are not doing good business. One of the possible reasons is said to be that the Red Cross is restricting the facility only to family members of the patients. No patient is allowed to stay at the Sarai though.
Earlier, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said that the Sarai would help “ailing patients and their caregivers belonging to economically weaker sections”. But, soon after the Sarai was opened, Red Cross officials said that it would be restricted only to the family members and attendants of patients but not the patients. The charges for dormitory is Rs 100 per person and private room Rs 500 per day.