The Greater Chennai Corporation, which runs over 400 Amma Canteens in the city, on Thursday announced free food to people at all its eateries till the lockdown ends.
Days after the food items were made free for people in the Western cities of Coimbatore and Salem, the GCC in its twitter handle said under Chief Minister K Palaniswami's ''order and guidance'' all Amma canteens in its jurisdiction will provide free food thrice a day till the lockdown ends.
Local Administration Minister SP Velumani tweeted that the Chennai corporation with the largest number of canteens in the city has made food free in all its 407 canteens until end of COVID-19 curfew.
"Under Hon'ble CM's guidance, our govt strives to best serve the needy alwys,!" he said.
Under Hon'ble @CMOTamilNadu's order and guidance, all AMMA Canteens in Greater Chennai Corporation will provide free food all 3 times of the day till the Lockdown ends. @SPVelumanicbe#Covid19Chennai#GCC#Chennai#ChennaiCorporation- Greater Chennai Corporation (@chennaicorp) April 23, 2020
Sources told news agency PTI that per day, at least Rs 17 lakh is the cost of food served in the 407 canteens in the State capital and volunteers have expressed willingness to foot the bill.
Recently, Mr Velumani had said the AIADMK district party unit will bear the expenditure of providing food at all the 15 Amma canteens in Coimbatore.
On April 19, Mr Palaniswami announced free food at all Amma canteens in Salem district, his native place, and said that the AIADMK's local units will bear the cost.
In Tamil Nadu, there are 600 plus canteens and in Salem district, 11 are functioning in the Corporation areas and four in municipalities including Edappadi, the home turf of Chief Minister Palaniswami. Launched by former chief minister late Jayalalithaa years ago, the Amma canteens, known as "Amma Unavagam" in Tamil, provide breakfast, lunch and dinner even during lockdown.
Catering to lakhs of people, including working classes and the indigent, the chain of low cost eateries are run by local bodies.
These canteens offer idlis at a cost of Rs one each, two pieces of roti at Rs 3, Pongal Rs 5 and rice varieties including sambar, lemon and curd at Rs 5 a plate.
The state governments of Karnataka and Rajasthan had launched Indira Canteens and Annapurna Rasoi respectively inspired by the Amma Canteens.
The second phase of the ongoing nationwide lockdown is to end on May 3.