Bengaluru: Looks like the Indira Canteen, which is a food subsidisation programme run by the Karnataka government, is also aimed at subsidising the quality of food served. Lab reports confirm that certain items served such as Sambar, Bisi Bele Bath, etc, are not fit for consumption.

The canteen has now come under scanner after BJP councillor Umesh Shetty pointed out severe lapses in the quality of the food served.

To make matters worse, the quality of the food has now been tangled in a political slugfest, instead of being rectified.

The Congress-led Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has denied that the quality has been compromised.

The issue came to light after Umesh Shetty found that the number of pourakarmikas (cleaning staff), who consume meals from Indira Canteen, complained of various stomach-related ailments.

Shetty found something fishy and figured that the food served at the Indira Canteen could be the culprit behind several pourakarmikas falling ill.

Umesh Shetty spoke to MyNation and said, “There are several lapses in the quality of the food. The ones bearing the brunt of such sheer negligence are the pourakarmikas, who consume this food on a daily basis.”

Shetty collected samples in the first two weeks of March and sent it for analyses to the Ramaiah Laboratory.

Umesh Shetty collected samples from JP Nagar ward, mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun’s area, deputy mayor Bhadre Gowda’s Nagapura ward and Byatarayanapura, Aramane Nagar, Govindrajnagar and Mudalpalya wards.

The lab reports confirmed that the food was indeed contaminated.

Dr Kishore Shenoy of Ramaiah Advanced Testing Laboratory said that the samples contained E coli bacteria, which could cause abdominal cramps and vomiting.

Furthermore, R Ashoka, senior leader of the BJP, said that Indira canteens have become centres of disease-distribution.

“By giving mediocre quality food, the government is using up funds that was originally meant for food, for elections,” added R Ashoka.

However, BBMP sources denied claims and said that they have not received a single complaint of people falling ill after consuming the food at Indira Canteen.

According to the BBMP’s own reports, a whopping 16,000 pourakarmikas consume this food on a daily basis. The BBMP has also claimed that as many as 21 lakh people eat at Indira Canteens.

Deputy chief minister G Parameshwara has now directed the BBMP commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad to test food samples and take strict action against erring contractors.

Prasad will collect samples of Indira Canteen ingredients and cooked food tested in 12 labs accredited to the National Accreditation Board. He has also assured approval by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India .

The matter, however, doesn’t really end here. Umesh Shetty also went on to say that the canteen collects funds for a larger number than it serves.

“They say they’re feeding 16,000 people and take funds for that number. But in reality, they hardly feed 2000 people,” added Umesh Shetty.

The question remains as to where does all the money go? Especially when the quality of the food is compromised as well.