A plate of rice, dal, sabji, fish curry and chutney — all for Rs 21 — will now be available in all districts in the state, following the state government’s success with the “cheap fish meal” scheme in Kolkata. An initiative of the state fisheries department, battery-operated cars bearing these affordable meals will be placed at popular points across various districts, initially near the office of district magistrates. Officials expect government employees and general public who throng these areas to benefit from the cheap meal scheme.
Christened “Ekushe Annapurna”, this dream project of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be effective from May 1 in all districts. The scheme will be marketed by the West Bengal State Fishermen’s Cooperative Limited, which is popularly known as Benfish. The scheme was initially launched as an experiment in Kolkata from February 2017.
“The scheme was a grand success in Kolkata, where 20 of our battery-operated cars serve the people. Now it is time for us to spread it throughout the state. We will begin by placing the cars with meals near district magistrate offices. Gradually, the same will be extended to major crossings and government buildings,” state Fisheries Minister Chandranath Sinha told The Indian Express.
According to Sinha, placing the cars near DM offices will cater to not only thousands of visitors, but also hundreds of government employees. “Every day, thousands visit these offices and not all of them have the financial capability to get full fish meal at a reasonable price. So keeping that in mind, we have decided to start this scheme at different state government offices in the districts,” said Sinha.
The minister further said, “The scheme will be run on a no-profit and no-loss basis. Above all, there is 100 per cent guarantee of hygiene be it cooking or packaging.” The meal at Rs 21 will come in a packet covered with a plastic jacket to prevent contamination.
“This project is designed to fulfil the dream of our chief minister to offer proper and nutritious food to everyone in the state. Our aim is to provide affordable fish meals in a hygienic manner,” Sinha said. The Tamil Nadu government had in 2013 launched a similar scheme called ‘Amma Unavagam’ (amma canteens), under which select outlets across the state served a piece of idli for Re 1, a plate of sambar rice for Rs 5 and a plate of curd rice for Rs 3.