Updated: February 16, 2021 3:10:56 am
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday launched a meal scheme named “Maa” under which the government will provide a meal mostly to poor people at a nominal cost of Rs 5. People will get a platter of rice, dal, a vegetable and egg curry.
The chief minister said during the online launch event that the government would bear a subsidy of Rs 15 per plate, adding that Rs 100 crore had been allotted for the scheme. Self-help groups will run the kitchens — which Banerjee said would be set up everywhere gradually — from 1 pm to 3 pm daily. “I will go and taste it one day,” Banerjee told reporters.
According to the chief minister, people will get meals on a first-come-first-serve basis. “This is a unique idea. We had announced this scheme in the Budget and managed to launch it within eight days,” she added, thanking officials from various departments for making it possible within such a short time.
Banerjee urged people to be patient about the functioning of the scheme. “It started on an experimental basis and there may be initial hiccups,” she added. On the first day, “Maa” kitchens started operating at a few places in Kolkata and in districts such as Malda, Dakshin Dinajpur, Paschim Medinipur and Howrah.
Last September, the TMC had launched a similar initiative, called “Didir Rannaghar [Didi’s Kitchen]”, to provide Rs 5 meals to migrant workers who had lost jobs during the Covid-19 lockdown. Banerjee had also started the “Jan Ahar” canteen when she was the railway minister in the UPA-2 government.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chairperson said West Bengal was the only state to provide free ration, healthcare and education. Banerjee said 10 crore people in the state had benefitted from her government’s “Swasthya Sathi” healthcare scheme.
Taking a dig at the ruling party and the chief minister, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said the need for providing subsidised kitchens highlights the distress the people of the State are in. “The chief minister has kept people hungry and poor like beggars,” he added.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Mamata Banerjee inaugurated a “mother and child” hub at Chittaranjan Seva Sadan Hospital in Kolkata. With this, the state now has 17 such hubs. “Bengal is number one in health sector in the country. The government has also developed the related infrastructure required. West Bengal has also done great work in dealing with the Covid crisis,” Banerjee said.
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