With BBMP not clearing bills, the scheme has been stopped
“We are old, cannot work any more and have no one to take care of us. With no income, we were entirely dependant on the midday meals. With that gone, we have been forced to go without food and depend on others,” cried Gangamma, an octogenarian. She, along with several senior citizens from slums across the city, staged a demonstration on Wednesday with empty plates and water glasses.
Raising slogans against the BBMP, the protesters, who had gathered under the aegis of Akhila Karnataka Vayo Vruddhara Okkoota, demanded that BBMP restart the midday meal scheme for senior citizens immediately.
Okkoota president S. Latha, a septuagenarian, pointed out that the scheme was started in June 2011.
It was stopped abruptly in February 2013. “Hundreds of aged slum dwellers were entirely dependant on the meals. After being served in the afternoon, they would save some food for dinner. With the scheme being suspended, many are forced to go hungry for days,” she said.
“We were told that the BBMP was providing the meals through the Akshaya Patra Foundation. With pending bills not cleared, the foundation stopped providing food.” She asked if providing one meal to old people from poor socio-economic backgrounds was such a big burden for the BBMP.
Hemoji Nayak, Additional Commissioner (Welfare), told The Hindu that 12,000 senior citizens were provided midday meals at 202 centres in eight zones.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation had stopped supplying midday meals following irregular payment of bills, he said. Another organisation had now come forward to provide midday meals to senior citizens free of cost under the Namma Bangalore Nanna Koduge scheme. “We are verifying its capability and competency to cook hygienic meals and supply the same on a regular basis. To ensure compliance, we will sign a performance guarantee agreement with the organisation,” he said and assured that the scheme would be restarted soon.