Five months after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's launched Rs 5 economy meal 'Shiv Bhojan Thali', the project attained huge popularity, with sales set to touch 9 million plates soon, officials said here on Saturday.
"Till date (June 19), as many as 88,48,501 people comprising the poor, migrants and other needy persons affected by the lockdown have savoured the Shiv Bhojan Thali," Thackeray said.
What started with just 50 centres selling the meals at Rs 10/plate, has now grown to a whopping 848 centres around the state, and since lockdown, the rate has been slashed by 50 per cent to make it even affordable for the poor.
From the first day, the popularity of the Shiv Bhojan Thali and the sales have been zooming, starting from January (79,918 plates sold), February (467,869), crossed the half million mark in March (578,031), shot past two million in April (24,99,257), May (3,384,040) and has crossed 1,839,486 in the first half of June.
The Food and Civil Supplies Ministry - which runs the scheme - is hopeful that by June-end the sales may cross the one crore plates mark, with migrants and visitors to hospitals taking maximum advantage of the economy meal.
"The Shiv Bhojan Thali costs the government Rs 50 in urban and Rs 35 in rural areas, for which the government gives a subsidy of Rs 45 and Rs 30 to the contractor," said a ministry official.
In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, all centres are observing all protocols like cleanliness, sanitization of the premises and surroundings, all centres' staffers wash hands regularly, wear masks, etc, he added.
Launched officially on January 26 at 50 centres in the state, the 'Shiv Bhojan Thali' was one among the major components of the common minimum programme of Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress alliance when it formed the government in November 2019.
The centres have been opened at convenient locations like big hospitals, government offices, markets, near bus or railway stations, and other public places in urban, semi-urban and rural areas.