Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 8:
Thousands of people are thronging the Aahar centers opened by the Odisha government everyday just to experience the subsidized meal. Most of them eat precious little and throw away most of the food.
The scheme initially for the urban poor and rural people coming to the cities is actually catering to the needs of locals, auto drivers, shop owners and even well-off men, who otherwise can afford a meal in private eateries.
We even noticed men coming in four-wheelers to eat the Rs 5 meal of the government at the Aahar centre near the Railway station in Bhubaneswar. They stand in the queue like the others to buy the food coupons, but eat very little and throw most of the stuff.
“I just dropped in to taste the Rs 5 rice dalma of Naveen babu,” is a common refrain among these folks. The number of such men, who come to the counter out of curiosity and in the process deny the intended beneficiaries their share of food, is quite large.
“I didn’t come here to eat a meal. Just wanted to taste the government food,” said one Sidharth Dash when we asked him why he was throwing food away.
While the timing of the shops have been limited to 11 AM to 3 PM and only a maximum of 1000 meals are delivered at a center, quite often the men who need the subsidized meals the most miss out on the service due to these curious visitors; as it happened in case of a physically challenged man Tanmay Mishra at the station Aahar center yesterday.
Some people even complained that some of the people are given up to 3-4 tokens each when the rules provide for only one token per man.
These unhealthy trends of favoring people coupled with the drinking water issues, denial of second helping and rush of curious visitors bar the rightful recipients of the service and raise a question mark on the efficiency and motive of the government in running the scheme.