The Andhra Pradesh government today launched the much-awaited 'Anna Canteens' in various parts of the state.
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu inaugurated a canteen in Vijayawada to mark the launch of the programme while, in all, 60 'Anna Canteens' were opened in the first phase across the state.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation will run these canteens.
Setting up 'Anna Canteens', where breakfast, lunch and dinner would be offered at Rs 5 each, was one of the promises the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) made ahead of the 2014 polls.
Ministers and officials visited Tamil Nadu and other places many times since 2014 to "study" the functioning of such canteens but the government failed to implement the programme because of financial constraints.
In March 2016, the first 'Anna Canteen' named after TDP founder-president N T Rama Rao, was opened on a pilot basis close to the Government Transitional Headquarters at Velgapudi in Amaravati and only three more canteens were opened at other places in the last two years.
Now, with polls just a few months away, the government came out with a plan to set up 203 'Anna Canteens' across the state.
"You can benchmark these canteens internationally. KFC or McDonald's. Quality, environment, cleanliness, hygiene... you name anything, nowhere you will have such perfection," the chief minister said while addressing a public meeting after the inauguration ceremony.
The state government is also making the canteens hi-tech by installing CCTV cameras and other gadgets.
"Once a person enters, his finger print or Iris is captured for facial recognition. This will prevent entry of fraudulent people," Mr Naidu pointed out.
He appealed to everyone to donate liberally to run the canteens so that more needy people could be provided food.