Hyderabad

Closure of Annapurna canteens leaves the poor in the lurch

Government directs officials to run the Annapurna canteens through the lockdown. The ₹5 meal outlet closed during the third day of lockdown in Hyderabad on Tuesday.

Government directs officials to run the Annapurna canteens through the lockdown. The ₹5 meal outlet closed during the third day of lockdown in Hyderabad on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: G. RAMAKRISHNA

No instructions on suspending the facility, says official

Annapurna canteens, which were providing subsidised lunch at ₹5 per plate for the poor and urchins, remained shut at several locations in the city since the current lockdown, leaving the homeless, poor people and beggars high and dry on city roads.

The Annapurna scheme was the brain child of Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar who had launched it while serving as GHMC Commissioner six years ago, in partnership with the Akshaya Patra Foundation of Hare Krishna Movement.

There are 150 Annapurna canteens in the city, one for each division, serving simple vegetarian meals near busy locations where the turnout of daily wage labourers is high. Canteens were also set up near government hospitals such as Niloufer and Gandhi so that patients’ attendants can have affordable meals.

Only recently, the scheme celebrated six years, and completed serving of 4 crore meals.

However, since the Janata Curfew, for the last two days, the canteens had remained shut, despite assurances by the GHMC officials that they were functional.

An official of the GHMC said no instructions were issued for closure of the canteens, and hence, by default they were considered open. The ground situation, however, is different.

On Tuesday, a few canteens were found open, such as those near Niloufer Hospital, Nallakunta Fever Hospital, and Ramantapur. There were no large crowds at the canteens, hence no fear of contamination.

The canteens at Gandhi Hospital and near Keyes junction in Secunderabad were found shut on the day, as was the one at Kothapet fruit market.

“The least the government can do is to keep running these canteens if they cannot scale them up to more localities. There are several homeless persons, beggars, patients’ attendants, stranded travellers, and daily wage labourers without work who need the canteens during the lockdown period,” says A. Suneetha from Women and Transgenders’ JAC.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 8:03:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/closure-of-annapurna-canteens-leaves-the-poor-in-the-lurch/article31156449.ece

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