Canteens serving Rs 5-meal from TDP's time also shut

Hyderabad: The schemes scrapped by the Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh includes Anna Canteens that served a meal for Rs 5 and catered to a large poor and the middle class section. Perhaps this is the only scheme among all scrapped decisions which had a direct impact on people.

All 204 canteens were shut down by the government on August 1, citing irregularities in the scheme launched by previous TDP government. Working since July-August last year, the canteens were proving a boon to the poor as they were getting breakfast, lunch and dinner at Rs 5 each. For hundreds of daily wage labourers, beggars, other poor and middle class customers, three square meals a day was costing them just Rs 15. The same would have otherwise cost them around Rs 150.

Every canteen is catering to 1,000-1,200 people for each session and thus all canteens are providing over six lakh meals every day. For breakfast, the canteens were serving idli, upama and pongal. The customers were getting rice, curry, dal, sambar, curd and pickle for lunch and dinner. Modeled on the lines of Tamil Nadu's Amma Canteens, there were 204 Anna Canteens in 73 municipalities, spread across the state.

Akshaya Patra, a non-governmental organization, was cooking and supplying food for the canteens. YSRCP leaders alleged that TDP used the scheme launched on the eve of elections to further its political interests by painting the canteens yellow (colour of TDP's flag). TDP has slammed the government for winding up the scheme out of sheer political vendetta.

"Lakhs of people have lost the opportunity to eat a nutritious meal at a paltry Rs. 5 and more than 20,000 employees have lost their livelihood. What wrong did people do to be punished like this?," asked former chief minister and TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu in a tweet.

"The government can do anything to TDP due to vendetta but TDP will not keep quiet if it continues to make poor people suffer," Naidu said demanding re-opening of canteens. YSRCP government, however, said the scheme was temporarily suspended to set things right. Municipal Administration Minister Botsa Satyanarayana has assured the people that the government will re-open the canteens after streamlining the system.

By Mohammed Shafeeq/ IANS