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Subsidy row: Food rates hiked in Parliament canteen

Three days after the government announced a curb in cooking gas subsidy, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan approved a proposal to abolish subsidy on parliament canteen food which would now function on a no-profit-no-loss basis. The decision comes after years of public criticism over parliamentarians being allowed to enjoy cheap food like a plate of chicken curry for Rs 37 or dal for just Rs 2.

 As per the new rates, effective from January 1, The Rs 18 veg thali will now be sold for Rs 30 while a non-veg thali will see a hike of Rs 27. The price of chicken curry has been revised from Rs 29 to Rs 40.

Parliament food committee’s chairman Jithendra Reddy told HT, “Prices of all items have been increased by 50-70%.”

Top sources told HT that earlier the panel had submitted a proposal to hike prices of only a few items. But Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan turned it down as she wanted a wholesale revision.

A query under the Right To Information Act had recently revealed that in past five years, the canteen, run by the Northern Railways catering service, got a subsidy of Rs 60.7 crore. Apart from MPs, parliament staff, visitors and many journalists also enjoy the canteen’s subsidized food. During a session, an average 4,500 people eat daily at Parliament.

The canteen rates had been revised ten years ago and despite a spiraling rise in the cost of food materials the canteen was run, piling up subsidies.

On Monday, the government had announced that families with more than annual taxable income of Rs 10 lakh, will not get any subsidy on cooking gas. The decision on parliament canteen, albeit suggested by an independent multi-party panel, is seen in the same direction of reducing subsidies for the non-poor section.

A Lok Sabha press release said the food will also be prepared to ensure there is no wastage. The Speaker, however, also decided to place tea and coffee vending machines.

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