It has only been a few days since the Andhra Pradesh government launched Anna canteens, and it is already witnessing a massive footfall. However, on Thursday, things turned unpleasant at one of these canteens.
In a video that has surfaced from Kurnool's Yemmiganur, Raghunatha Reddy, the Municipal Commissioner of Yemmiganur, is seen pushing and shoving the customers away from the food counter. The official is also seen slapping a few.
Rush for food at recently started #AnnaCanteen at Yemmiganur #Kurnool district #AP; almost stampede like situation, staff unable to control; municipal commissioner Raghurami Reddy ran out of patience and manhandled people lining up for lunch, reports @tweetsreekanth_ @ndtv pic.twitter.com/xYGlzILylS— Uma Sudhir (@umasudhir) July 13, 2018
On Thursday, people lined up at the Yemmiganuru Anna canteen during lunch time. But, in a short period of time, more than 300 people thronged the canteen hall, which can supposedly accommodate only 100 people.
As people rushed to get their food, Raghunatha, who was overseeing the arrangements, lost his calm and started mistreating several customers.
When TNM contacted Raghunatha Reddy, he justified, "The hall can accommodate a crowd of 100 people. But, there were more than 300 people crammed into the hall, which resulted in a stampede-like situation. My intention was not to beat them up but to ensure the process goes smoothly. It happened on the spur of the moment."
The officials also said that despite all the chaos, they managed to serve the food to as many as 800 people on the first day.
Hundred Anna canteens, which serve food at Rs 5, were inaugurated across the state. Yemmiganuru has one canteen, which can serve breakfast, lunch and dinner to as many as 300 people.
Raghunatha Reddy told TNM that they're also making arrangements to increase the capacity of the canteens to accommodate more customers.
When TNM asked if the government is planning to set up another canteen in the town, he said, "In 30 to 45 days, another canteen will be opened in the city."
The Anna canteen scheme is one of the electoral promises made before the 2014 elections. The canteens are run by Akshaya Patra Foundation.