On the lines of Amma Canteens in Tamil Nadu and Ahar Yojana of neighbouring Odisha, the Mamata Banerjee-led government is launching ‘Maa’ scheme in poll-bound West Bengal on Monday (February 15) to provide subsidised cooked food to the poor.
Sixteen common kitchens have been opened in Kolkata, where the new scheme is being launched initially. As per media reports the food per plate containing rice, dal, cooked vegetable and an egg would cost ₹5. The food would be available at a fixed time, officials said.
During the presentation of the state’s interim Budget on February 5, the Chief Minister said ₹ 100 crore was being set aside for the ‘Maa’ scheme. She also said free rations to people distressed because of COVID-19 will continue even after June 2021 for which ₹ 1,500 crore has been allocated.
The ‘Maa’ scheme is part of the state government’s ‘Maa, Mati, Manush’ vision.
The mobile Amma Canteens in Tamil Nadu had a meal dispensation plan for breakfast and lunch starting from 7 am. A plate of such food cost only ₹ 5. Started in 2013 by late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the scheme has provided food at affordable rates to lakhs of people in Chennai and other districts.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, close to one crore people in Tamil Nadu benefited from the Amma Canteens, which continued to function even as other restaurants and food outlets were closed.
The Trinamool government had started a community kitchen, ‘Didir Rannaghar’ (Mamata’s kitchen) to support migrant workers who were hit due to job losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bengal government’s flagship scheme, Kanyashree, has bagged many awards. Any girl student wishing to join the scheme has to fill a government form manually and get it certified by the head of the institution that she satisfies the criteria that her family income is within ₹1.20 lakh and that she is unmarried. The scheme has covered 50 lakh beneficiaries, as per government sources.
The polls for the 294-member Assembly in West Bengal are due in March-April. The BJP is the main rival of the ruling Trinamool, while the Congress and Left are planning an alliance.