Naveen Patnaik Soughts Corporate Support To Finance Aahar scheme

India CSR News Network

BHUBANESWAR: The Naveen Patnaik government has sought the corporate sector’s help to finance its new Aahaar (food) scheme, under which rice and dalma would be served to people at lunchtime for Rs 5. The scheme would be launched on April 1, coinciding with the 79th foundation day of the state, in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Sambalpur and Rourkela. It would cater to 25,000 people every day.

In Bhubaneswar, the subsidized food will be available at the railway station, bus stand, Capital Hospital and near the court. In Cuttack, it will be available at SCB Medical College, Sishu Bhavan, Badambadi Bus Stand and Malgodown. In Berhampur, the meals will be distributed at the railway station, MKCG Medical College, new bus stand, stadium and the old bus stand.

In Rourkela, people can have the meals at the railway station, bus stand, Panposh Square and Veda Vyas, while in Sambalpur, the railway station, government bus stand, Aanthapali bus stand and the court area have been identified for running the scheme.

Housing and urban development secretary G. Mathivathanan wrote letters to Tata Steel, Rourkela Steel Plant, Odisha Mining Corporation, Mahanadi Coalfields Limited and the National Aluminium Company (Nalco) seeking their support for the programme. The state government pins its hope on industrial houses, which have funds for such activities under their corporate social responsibility (CSR) scheme.

Since the annual financial burden for the state on account of the scheme, modelled on AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa’s Amma Canteen, is estimated to be around Rs 14 crore only, the government that faces a fiscal deficit of Rs 10,400 crore would be happy to get the corporate houses’ support.

Mathivathanan said, “This initiative requires financial support from corporate bodies, who can contribute from their CSR fund to meet part of expenditure of Rs 64 lakh that would be required to create basic infrastructure for the scheme in each of the cities and Rs 2.196 crore per year towards the cost of the meal”

The government is of the view that each meal would cost around Rs 20, but only Rs 5 will be collected from each beneficiary.

Sources said the government had sought Rs 3.20 core for meeting the one-time capital expenditure to finance part of the infrastructure cost that includes vehicles to carry food, utensils, dish washer, generators and so on. A sum of Rs 10.98 crore per annum would be required to meet the expenditure towards providing meals at a subsidized rate.If more funds are required for the purpose, it will be channelised from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, and the money will be given to the NGO, which would run the programme on a day-to-day basis.

“A blueprint has been prepared on how to run the scheme with the corporate houses’ help”  food and consumer welfare secretary Madhusudan Padhi told.

The government has roped in Touchstone Foundation, a subsidiary of the Aahar schemeand Manna Trust, to manage the centralized kitchen and Aahaar outlets. While the Akshay Patra Foundation will be in charge of Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Rourkela, the Manna Trust will be in charge of it in Berhampur and Sambalpur. Meals will be available between 11am and 3pm at the outlets.

Under the scheme, the beneficiary will provide rice and dalma (dal cooked with potatoes, pumpkin, brinjal and tomatoes). Official sources said an adult required 200 grams of rice, 50 grams of dal, 200 grams of vegetables and 7.5 grams of edible oil for a complete meal.

The state is already spending nearly Rs 2,000 crore on populist measures such as providing Re 1-a kg rice to people below poverty line, free bicycles to Class X students, incentives to pregnant mothers under the Mamata Yojana and monetary assistance to people under the BPL category from the Odisha Treatment Fund.