BHUBANESWAR: Anyone can now sponsor the Aahar meals, the state government’s cheap meal scheme, on a specific day like birthday, marriage or death anniversary or in remembrance of loved person of a family.

They can voluntarily donate through the Aahar website launched by chief minister on Monday here at the state secretariat. The donations will be received through online and it will be fully tax free, said sources.

As the cheap meal scheme is very popular among the urban poor, Naveen on Monday launched 38 more taking the total number to 157 centres covering all 114 urban local bodies. The chief minister inaugurated the centres through videoconferencing from the state secretariat.

The state government’s move, months before the general and assembly elections, is seen as an effort to garner support of urban poor during the forthcoming polls.

Launched in April 2015, the scheme guarantees cooked and dalma at Rs 5 at places of public congregations in the urban areas. With launching of the 38 centres, over one lakh meals are being served at the centres every day.

“Aahar is a popular scheme. Quality and hygiene should be the hallmarks of all the Aahar centres,” said Naveen.

State government sources said over seven crore meals have already been served through the Aahar centres. The scheme is being implemented with the (CSR) funding by various industrial houses.

To facilitate food to people attending their relatives undergoing treatment in various hospitals at an affordable price, the state government started providing dinners at 56 Aahar centres established near hospitals in various urban areas. the facility was started since January.

The opposition Congress and BJP criticized the state government saying the recent move is nothing but to lure the voters ahead of polls.

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