Nadia S Ranganathan & Pramita Sarkar
Bengaluru: The row over the licence for Indira Canteens from the Food and Safety Department is set to end on a happy note soon.
“The correspondence with the BBMP authorities has been completed. The BBMP authorities have agreed to pay the licence fee for 101 Indira Canteens by tomorrow (Wednesday). The civic body has to pay Rs 2,000 for each canteen,’’ Deputy Commissioner Food Safety (Squad) State surveillance officer Dr. Harshvardhan B said over the phone from New Delhi.
Dr Harshvardhan was in New Delhi on Tuesday to attend the Central Advisory Committee meeting of the Food and Safety Department.
“We will complete the process of issuing the licence to all Indira Canteens within a few days. I think many of the BBMP officials are not aware of the need to avail the licence to maintain Indira Canteens in Bengaluru,’’ Gowda said.
It is a normal procedure for anyone to apply for a licence to start a darshini or a restaurant in Bengaluru. One has to get the shops and establishments licence from the labour department; then, a trade licence from the BBMP; and finally, a licence from, and registration with, FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India).
The 101 Indira canteens that were opened last week are operating without a licence from the FSSAI.
Section 31 (1) of the Food Safety Act says that nobody (it makes no exception for the government) is entitled to commence a food business without a licence from FSSAI.
“We are giving the BBMP time to apply for the licence since it a welfare programme,’’ he said.
The contract to run the Indira Canteens has been given out to two caterers – Mumbai-based ChefTalk and New Delhi-based NGO Rewards.
The government set aside Rs 88 crore for 198 Indira Canteens (one in each ward in Bengaluru), which are meant to feed the poor – breakfast costs Rs 5 and lunch and dinner Rs 10 each.
As per FSSAI guidelines, the license and registration details are to be displayed prominently at the establishment where the food is being served. As per section 63 of the Food Safety Act, any person or food business operator except for temporary stall owners and petty hawkers (section 31 ) found running food business without the licence could be imprisoned for six months and also fined Rs 5 lakh.
“Complaints on the poor quality of food served at any place in the state can be brought to our notice through WhatsApp 9482196639. Within two days, we will attend the complaint,’’ he said.