Starting a restaurant in Bengaluru is a long process as it requires shops and establishments licence from the labour department, trade licence from the BBMP and finally a licence from, and registration with, FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India).
But none of these rules – and licences – apply when you are the government and eager to earn a quick vote, it seems.
The 101 Indira canteens that were opened last week are operating without a licence from FSSAI.
Worse, top officials involved in launching and authorizing the canteens aren’t even aware that a licence is required for the same.
“Yes, Indira canteens need to be registered as per the food safety and standard norms,” said Manoj Kumar Meena, Food Safety Commissioner, Karnataka and “it will be done soon “, he added.
BBMP Executive Engineer Nandish JR, however, gave a bizarre logic. That government establishments don’t need a licence from anyone. He’s the nodal officer in charge of all Indira Canteens.
“Only private hotels require registration and licence. The government issues them these certificates to ensure that the food they serve to the public is safe. But Indira Canteen is the government’s project so there will be no such problems,” he said.
According to Section 31 (1) of the Food Safety Act says that nobody (it makes no exception for the government) is entitled to commence a food business without a licence from FSSAI.
Govind Pujari, MD of Chef Talk, which has taken contract for 110 canteens said that a separate licence for Indira Canteens is definitely required and they have asked BBMP to apply for it.
“Our caterers have licence and approval. For Indira canteens, we will submit our application this week and we will hopefully get it in 60 days,” said N Manjunath Prasad, Commissioner BBMP.
Section 31 (7) of the Food Safety Act states that if the food is manufactured at one spot and is sold or exhibited at another then separate licences are required to operate both establishments.
As per section 63 of the Food Safety Act, any person or food business operator found running food business without the licence could be imprisoned for six months and also fined Rs 5 lakh.
Rajendra, president of Karnataka Hotel Owners’ Association said “If they are running Indira Canteens without a licence, then it is absolutely wrong.”