Restaurant owned by TDP leader shut down by Vizag civic body for lapses

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The Visakhapatnam urban planning authority has shut down a restaurant run by a man believed to be associated with the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday morning. Officials of the Visakhapatnam Metropolitan Region Development Authority (VMRDA) cleared their premises in Siripuram, where Fusion Foods, owned by T Harshavardhan Prasad, was located.

The VMRDA premises in Siripuram was first leased by the owner of the restaurant in 2004, The New Indian Express reported. The lease was extended in 2015 for a ten-year period upto 2024, and the notice served by the VMRDA reportedly states that the extension was in violation of VMRDA rules. It said that while state government approval is needed for a lease extension beyond three years, this approval was not sought by the restaurant. The notice also claimed that other norms, like issuing a public notice for auctioning of a shop before extending the lease, were also not followed. 

According to Deccan Chronicle, back in 2015, the VMRDA (then called VUDA or Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority) had refused to extend the restaurant’s lease, but the owner Harshavardhan had approached the Andhra Pradesh High Court, which ruled in his favour. 

Earlier in 2018, Harshavardhan was in the news after Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who was the Leader of Opposition at the time, was attacked with a knife inside the Visakhapatnam airport by a man who asked him for a selfie. The attacker, J Srinivasa Rao, was an employee of the Fusion Foods restaurant located in the Vizag airport, also owned by Harshavardhan. The restaurant owner’s statement was also recorded while the case was being probed by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).

In January, Nara Lokesh, son of TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu and General Secretary of the TDP, had filed a defamation suit against the Telugu newspaper Sakshi, over a news report which claimed that during Naidu’s term as Chief Minister from 2014-19, the CM account raked up bills amounting to Rs 25 lakh for tea and snacks at the ‘Fusion Foods Restaurant’ in the Visakhapatnam airport. It goes on to say that most of the expenses were incurred during Lokesh’s visits, under the CM’s expense account. Sakshi publications is owned and managed by the family of CM Jagan.