Early this month, senior journalists accompanying the West Bengal Chief Minister on a tour of London were caught stealing silver cutlery at a hotel. Back home in Bengaluru, Indira Canteens, which provide subsidised meals, are facing a similar problem, though with less expensive stainless steel spoons.
Managers of several canteens across the city say patrons, after enjoying a good meal, are walking away with spoons, and sometimes even steel glasses. It is not a question of a couple of them, but hundreds, said frustrated employees.
The Indira Canteen for Vasanthnagar ward on Miller’s Road was initially supplied with 600 spoons. Not a single one is available now. “We have no idea what is happening. They are just disappearing. Though there seems to be no point complaining, we have informed the authorities who come to deliver the food from the centralised kitchen,” a staff member told The Hindu.
At the Subramanyanagar ward canteen, over 180 spoons are missing. “We had 250. Now, we give them only when they are available,” a staffer said. And at the Dattatreya Temple canteen inside a hospital, steel glasses have disappeared. “The spoons were sturdy and had a good grip. Perhaps, that is why they are being stolen. If the plates were any smaller, even they would have gone missing,” he said.
Some canteens are now taking drastic measures. The management at Gayathri Nagar ward has decided not to distribute spoons unless absolutely necessary. “We only give spoons for pongal and bisibele bath, as their consistency makes it difficult to eat without one. We just got 200 this month, and already 30 are missing.”
“It is unfortunate that this is happening even with CCTV in each canteen,” said Bengaluru Mayor R. Sampath Raj.