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No More Biryani or Fish and Chips? Parliament Canteen May Soon Go Fully Vegetarian

A choice between private vendors Haldiram and Bikanerwala to run the Parliament canteen would mean that only vegetarian fare would be available to MPs since both eateries do not serve meat dishes.

Payal Mehta | CNN-News18

Updated:January 14, 2020, 6:00 PM IST
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No More Biryani or Fish and Chips? Parliament Canteen May Soon Go Fully Vegetarian
Representative image.

New Delhi: The Parliament canteen may soon have only vegetarian food on its menu as IRCTC, a subsidiary of Indian Railways, may be replaced by Haldiram or Bikanerwala as caterer.

A choice between private vendors Haldiram and Bikanerwala to run the five canteens in the Parliament complex would mean that only vegetarian fare would be available to MPs as well as other staff since both eateries do not serve meat dishes.

There is also a third government-run company said to be in the running to replace IRCTC. The decision, to be made by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla in the absence of a food committee, though is likely to come down to between Haldiram and Bikanerwala, sources have said.

A completely vegetarian menu, however, could prove to be controversial as certain items like biryani, chicken cutlets and fish and chips are some of the most preferred currently.

The IRCTC over the last few months had faced complaints over the quality of the food served in the canteen as well as the subsidies offered to the parliamentarians that led to the demand for a new caterer.

A final decision on replacing the caterer could be made during a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee of the Parliament during the upcoming Budget Session. The panel may also take a call on revising the low rates that has often led to criticism.

All the lawmakers had in the Winter Session agreed to give up their subsidy at Parliament canteens when Speaker Om Birla had moved a proposal. The rates were last revised in 2016 after outrage over the then-existing food prices, which offered food at 80 per cent subsidised rates.

The annual food expenses for Parliament stands at Rs 17 crore, which to a large extend is subsidized. Out of the Rs 17 crore, at least Rs 14 crore is utilised by Parliament staff and visitors and the rest by MPs. A few MPs had expressed reservation of total removal of subsidy, saying it will impact the staff who eat there regularly more than MPs.

Congress floor leader in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhry, had suggested to do away with subsidy available to MPs but not the parliamentary staff.

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