A committee appointed to audit the Anna Canteens set up by the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government accused it of misusing public money worth Rs 53 crore. The committee that was set up Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy submitted its report to the Andhra government on Saturday.
The committee allegedly found that the cost of items was inflated because of defective estimates. According to the expert committee, there were two classifications under which the procurement of raw materials was done. However, a common cost estimate was allegedly prepared for all 204 canteen locations instead of a detailed estimate for each location based on ground conditions. The committee called this technically incorrect, reported Deccan Chronicle. All canteens were operated through tenders given out by municipal administrations.
Anna Canteens fashioned after Tamil Nadu's Amma Canteen was a poll promise of the former Chief Minister and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu in 2014. He, however, opened 204 canteens across 13 districts in the state only by 2018, a few months before the 2019 Assembly Elections. The canteens were to supply breakfast, lunch and dinner for Rs 5 a meal. The canteens were run by Akshaya Patra Foundation. At its peak, the canteen was serving food to over 2.15 lakh people daily.
The YSRCP government after coming to power scaled-down the operations and finally gave orders to shut the canteens on July 31. The state government then formed a committee to review the final count of assets and stock handed over by the Akshaya Patra Foundation to the respective municipal administrations.
The committee conducting the audit, however, allegedly found that the practice resulted in unwanted expenditure at each canteen building to the tune of Rs 3.80 lakh. The money was allegedly spent mostly on beautification with Rs 1.54 lakh spent at each canteen for photographs engraved in concrete and Rs 2.9 lakh for providing glazing panels and Rs 74,000 for paving outside the premises.
The committee accuses the TDP government of allegedly spending Rs 8.98 lakh in excess at each canteen. The report also pointed out that it could have saved Rs 20.25 lakh per canteen building.