Ex-top cop, UK NRI, Dabbawalas set up ‘Mumbai Roti Bank’

Mumbai, Dec 23 (IANS) A former police commissioner, an NRI businessman from London and the famed Dabbawalas joined hands here on Saturday to “wage a fight against hunger” through the “Mumbai Roti Bank” platform.

While IPS officer and former city police chief and Maharashtra DGP D. Sivanandan has launched the non-profit initiative, UK-based businessman Nittin Khanapurkar has formed “MUrgency”, an emergency platform under the leadership of Mumbai Dabbawalas’ chief Subhash Talekar.

“The Mumbai Roti Bank will deploy GPS-tracked vans to collect excess food from restaurants, eateries, clubs, five-star hotels, events, public functions or marriages, besides households, and distribute them to poor, hungry and needy people,” said Talekar.

He said the Mumbai’s Dabbawalas recently launched their own Roti Bank initiative through which they collected extra food from households or organisations and distributed among the poor. “At least 300 people benefit daily.”

Stressing the need for more public participation in this venture, which is being done by volunteers offering free service, Talekar said the Roti Bank concept would now be spread all over India in stages.

“In India, an estimated 20 crore people — or the entire population of Pakistan — daily sleep hungry, 3,000 infants die due to malnutrition and hunger every day, but on the other hand, there is huge wastage of food, especially at big events, parties, marriages, etc.,” Talekar said.

While Sivanandan has donated the first van for the project at Lower Parel station to kickstart the scheme, the Mumbai Roti Bank plans to roll out another three-four food vans shortly.

Khanapurkar appealed to all stakeholders to take advantage of the Mumbai Roti Bank and call up whenever they were saddled with extra food to collect it while it was still fresh, so it could be distributed among the needy and hungry, including pavement dwellers in the city.

“People and organisations who have excess food to spare can call up a 24×7 helpline (No.9111891118/ www.rotibankindia.org) and provide the location from where the excess food has to be picked up. We will do the rest,” said Sivanandan.