Odisha seeks corporate funding for ‘Aahar’

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has sought the assistance of corporate houses to roll out its affordable food scheme ‘Aahar’ for poor people from April 1, officials said on Thursday.

As per the scheme, the government would provide a meal for Rs. 5 to the urban poor in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Sambalpur, Berhampur and Rourkela towns in the state.

It expects that Rs.2.19 crore would be spent for the scheme per year, officials said.

The government has asked Tata steel, Nalco, Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd, Odisha Mining Corporation and Steel Authority of India Ltd (Rourkela steel plant) to provide financial assistance for the infrastructure.

“This initiative requires financial support from corporate bodies out of their CSR fund to support one time capital expenditure to meet part of the infrastructure cost,” housing and urban development secretary G. Mathi Vathanan said in a letter to the corporate bodies.

The government has decided to open Aahar centres (canteens) at bus stands, railway stations, collectorate and hospitals in these five urban locations.

While it is estimated that each meal would cost Rs. 20 to be served, the government would provide it at a subsidised rate of Rs.5. The contribution of corporate houses would be Rs.15 per meal, the secretary said.

The menu of the vegetarian meal comprises of plain rice and Dalma (a combination of lentils and vegetables).

The poor people visiting these cities can avail the Rs.5-meal at these canteens during lunch time.

The government would make the necessary arrangements to provide food to 25,000 people each day.