44 Zunka Bhakar Kendras to be replaced, 215 planned in all.
Mumbai: Learning its lessons from past controversies, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to allot Annadata Aahar Kendras, eateries offering meals at reasonable rates, to jobless people on a priority basis. It has also formed a selection committee in each ward to allot new centres across the city. The civic body has already converted 44 of its erstwhile Zunka Bhakar Kendras, located on municipal land, into Annadata Aahar Kendras.
As for the other Zunka Bhakar Kendras, which are situated on public places, footpaths etc, it has decided to develop them into Annadata centres as well, depending on the availability of space and to ensure that development control rules are not violated.
In 1995, the Shiv Sena-BJP government started the Zunka Bhakar scheme, under which stalls serving staple Maharashtrian food at `1, were allotted. However, the Congress-NCP government, which came to power in 2000, scrapped the scheme. The Supreme Court too upheld the decision to close down the Zunka Bhakar stalls.
Now in a bid to resuscitate the scheme, the Shiv Sena has decided on the Annadata Aahar Kendras in the city. Accordingly, the civic body has decided to start 215 such centres across the city. A majority of them have been allotted to Sena-BJP workers, leading to allegations that the party was using the scheme to rehabilitate its own party members.
“For the new proposals of Aahar Kendras, unemployed people have been given priority. Additionally, a selection committee has also been formed at each ward level to allot new centres. The committee will scrutinize the space available and before allotting the centres,” said a senior civic official.
Opposition leader, Mr Ravi Raja, from the Congress, has demanded that the BMC should also contemplate starting the Kande Pohe scheme proposed by his party. “Kande Pohe is a popular food. With this scheme, the BMC would have given an opportunity to local women’s saving groups, mahila mandals, voluntary groups, educated unemployed, elderly and handicapped people, to earn a livelihood. But the BMC has turned a deaf ear to our demands,” said Mr Raja.