Can you imagine a vegetarian thali lunch for Rs.12.50 or a katori (small
bowl) of dal at Rs.1.50, and chapatis for a rupee each at a time when the
prices of essential commodities are touching the sky?
Yes it is possible, even if food is getting out of the reach of the poor in
the country. Welcome to the Parliament House canteen - where delectable
dishes will never act pricey.
A series of catering units run by Indian Railways at Parliament House,
including at the library and the annexe building, serve food at rates which
are a good decade old but are hard to digest for a newcomer.
MPs, who are seen shouting at each other and castigating the government over
the rising food prices, definitely relish the cheap canteen food. But, mind
you, the facility is not for them only.. Parliament staff, low-paid security
personnel and accredited journalists too enjoy the delicacies at rates which
an ordinary citizen outside cannot even think of.
Dal, considered to be the poor man's food in India and which is now getting
too expensive to even fit his bowl, costs just Rs.1.50 for a katori.
Low rates make the desserts sweeter. A katori of kheer at Rs.5.50 will never
taste bitter. So will a small fruit cake at Rs.9.50 and a helping of fruit
salad at Rs.7.
If you want to have soup, enjoy a bowl full at Rs.5.50, and for a heaped
plate of cooked rice you need to shell out just Rs.2. Dosa is available at
And, yes, a cup of piping hot tea is available for just Rs.1 -- not in the
canteen but along a parliament corridor at a tea board.
Where does this come from? Remember, behind the cheap commodity there is a
subsidy. All this costs the government a huge amount of tax payers' money.
The gap between the actual cost and what MPs, journalists and others have to
pay, is bridged with a food budget set aside by parliament.
"Over Rs.5.3 crore has been allocated during the current financial year for
the canteens. The Lok Sabha pays some Rs.3.55 crore and the Rajya Sabha
shares the amount to over Rs.1..77 crore," said an official.
"Not only MPs, we serve food to everybody who is allowed inside parliament.
They also include workers, gardeners and labourers," the official told IANS,
defending the low prices.
The food prices were last revised in 2004.
A 15-member joint parliamentary committee on food management headed by then
MP K. Yerranaidu of the Telugu Desam Party was constituted in 2005 to
consider revision of the rates and the service.
"The committee didn't give any report and the rates were not revised," the
During the just-concluded winter session, on an average "3,000 people were
served lunch in the canteen daily", a caterer said, but strongly pleaded
anonymity as "we have been told not to speak to the media without
Parliament House Canteen Food Rates
Tea Re. 1
Dal - one katori Rs.1.50
Veg thali (dal, subzi,4 chapatis, rice/pulao, curd and salad) Rs.12.50
Non-veg thali Rs.22
Curd rice Rs.11
Veg pulao Rs.8
Chicken biryani Rs.34
Fish curry and rice Rs.13
Rajma rice Rs.7
Tomato rice Rs.7
Fish fry Rs.17
Chicken curry Rs.20.50
Chicken masala Rs.24.50
Butter chicken Rs.27
Chapati Re.1 a piece
One plate rice Rs.2
Kheer - one katori Rs.5.50
Fruit cake Rs.9.50
Fruit salad Rs.7
Did I hear someone say that there is no money for OROP?