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150 Amma canteens face closure threat

In a move which indicates that the Greater Chennai Corporation may bring down curtains on a significant number of Amma canteens in the city, officials have instructed the staff (Self-Help Group) of the canteens to maintain proper registry recording the number of visitors to the canteens.

150 Amma canteens face closure threat
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Chennai

Sources said the move is more an attempt to gradually shut the canteens which have reportedly received poor patronage and revenue. This has caused concern among customers and SHG workers.

Aiming at providing three square meals a day at a low cost for economically weaker sections, the late CM J Jayalalithaa had launched this scheme in 2013. Sources said that 407 such canteens function in GCC and the average collection is around Rs 14 lakh a day. 

However, recently, there has been a fall in the revenue and officials are planning to close around 150 canteens. “When I recently attended a meeting convened by GCC officials, we were instructed to submit reports of the number of people visiting the canteens regularly and also reduce the quantity of food items in some canteens. The officials explained about the expenditure to the exchequer and expressed displeasure over the poor revenue made by certain canteens,” said a woman worker in-charge of a canteen located in Egmore. 

The officials also dropped hints that the possibility of closing some canteens has become inevitable, if such a situation continued, the worker added. An employee of a Triplicane Urban Co-operative Society (TUCS), which supplied vegetable and other facilities, said, “The GCC is not prompt in its monthly payments. Under such circumstances, it is difficult for us to deliver the essentials.” 

Meanwhile, customers have urged the government not to shut even a single canteen. “Since such canteens are a big boon to the poor, the government should not consider closing them,” said A Palanivel, a carpenter in Chintadripet. 

When contacted, an official (in-charge) of Amma canteen, on conditions of anonymity, said that they had not taken any concrete decision on closure of canteens. “However, it is a fact that expenses have mounted in the past two years while the revenue made is utterly disproportionate,” he said.

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