The Northern Railways will hand over the reins of the Parliament canteen to India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) on November 15, bringing an end to its 52-year-old legacy of serving food to parliamentarians.
A letter from the Lok Sabha Secretariat has asked the Northern Railways, which has been serving food in the canteen since 1968, to pack up and move on from the parliament premises by November 15.
The ITDC, the government’s tourism arm, runs the luxury five-star The Ashok Group of Hotels.
“The competent authority has desired that the operations of the catering units in Parliament House Estate be taken over by ITDC 15.11 2020,” the letter stated.
“The Northern Railway may, accordingly, hand over the electronic gadgets viz. computers, printer etc. provided by the Lok Sabha Secretariat to ITDC and furniture items, equipment, gadgets etc. to CPWD for being handed over by them to ITDC,” it said.
The process to find a new vendor was started last year and in July this year, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla met Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel and officials of ITDC to discuss the issue.
Officials at ITDC said they have been instructed to keep special focus on the “quality of food” which should suit both “common people as well as dignitaries”.
At present, the canteen serves around 5,000 people during every session. There are 48 food items on its menu for lunch and evening snacks.
While matters relating to catering arrangements in the Parliament House Complex are typically decided by a joint committee on food management, in the 17th Lok Sabha, however, the food committee has not been constituted.
The final decision was taken by Speaker Om Birla, who has taken a personal interest in ensuring that better quality food is served in the canteen and that subsidies are ended.
An end to subsidies is expected to lead to annual savings of approximately ₹ 17 crore to parliament.