In toss for Amma or Kalaignar canteens in TN, MK Stalin wishes to keep both!

MK Stalin-led DMK government in Tamil Nadu is all set to establish Kalaignar canteens, in line with the existing Amma canteens. In toss for running the eateries named after two political giants of Tamil Nadu, MK Stalin wishes to keep both of them as Amma canteens have been branded as a pioneer project in feeding the poor and the needy at low cost. Establishing Kalaignar canteens was one of the poll promises of MK Stalin and the time has come to roll out the scheme, two hundred days after coming to power. 

On Thursday, Tamil Nadu Food Minister R Sakkarapani has said that the DMK government has planned to open 500 Kalaignar Unavagams (canteens) across the state soon. On the other hand, the DMK regime has displayed that it is keen to run the existing Amma canteens as the minister has demanded the Union government to extend 100% financial assistance under the National Food Security Act to run and operate 650 Amma canteens in the state.  

Sakkarapani was speaking at a meeting convened by Union Minister for Food and Public Distribution Piyush Goyal in New Delhi on the Community Kitchen scheme to address hunger and malnutrition in the country.  The Tamil Nadu Minister had spoken about the Amma Canteens and how they benefit people across the state and how they had become a measure of providing free food during disasters and pandemic times. He also had expressed that the government is committed to running Amma canteens while establishing eateries behind the name of the deceased DMK stalwart. 

The ADMK regime under the late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had established 650 Amma canteens through local bodies to provide food at subsidized rates to the poor. It has been reported that nearly 1,227 tonnes of rice and 362 tonnes of wheat were used by these canteens in the current fiscal year till September 3. The minister said that Rs 3.5 lakh is being spent on a canteen every month and these Amma canteens sell food at a very economical price - Curd rice for Rs 3, variety rice for Rs 5, two Chapathis and Dhal for Rs 3, and Pongal for Rs 5. 

These canteens feed masses every day and they also operate in all government medical college hospitals and in government hospitals located in the district headquarters for the benefit of patients' attendants and outpatients. Sakkarapani further said, "We request the Union government to provide 100% assistance under the National Food Security Act to run Amma canteens, sustain them successfully, and to cater to all the needy people. 

Sakkarapani said that the state retained its universal public distribution system even after the Union government implemented the National Food Security Act in November 2016 and added that the state government has been providing rations through public distribution system at a highly subsidized rate and now the government has announced a Pongal gift of 21 items to each of the 2.15 crore public distribution system cardholders at a cost of Rs 1,161 crore. 

On the front of benefits from Amma Canteens, minister Sakkarapani has said that Amma canteens have benefitted over 2.15 crore people across the state between June 1 and November 18. Around 30,490 constructions workers, including migrant labourers, have benefited during that period and added that during the Covid-19 pandemic and natural calamities, these canteens had provided food free of cost.