Amaravati, March 14
Andhra Pradesh Police on Monday detained scores of Mid-Day Meal scheme workers and leaders of trade unions in various parts of the state to foil their 'Chalo Vijayawada' programme.
The Mid-Day Meals Scheme workers' union has called for the protest to press for their demands.
The police have denied permission for the protest and resorted to preventive arrests and house arrests in several districts.
Leaders of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) were also either arrested or placed under house arrest. AITUC state secretary Padala Ramana was placed under house arrest in Visakhapatnam.
The Mid-Day Meal scheme workers and leaders reaching Vijayawada were also detained by the police. Trade union leaders were picked up from their offices as they were preparing to lead the protest.
Angry over the detentions and house arrests, the union leaders vowed to organise protests at any cost.
According to the union leaders, there are 80,000 Mid-Day meal workers across the state. The state government is providing mid-day meals to students in 40,000 schools.
The workers, who work for various agencies, alleged that the government's reported move to handover the implementation of the scheme to Akshaya Patra, a non-government organisation, will render them jobless.
Agencies providing mid-day meals were already demanding the government to increase their charges by 20 per cent and release dues.
According to agencies, the dues are pending since July 2021. They are also demanding that the government increase the food preparation charges in view of the skyrocketing process of essential commodities.
The government, on the other hand, is mulling action against agencies that fail to provide quality food. Officials say Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy placed special focus on food supplies at schools and fixed specific menus to ensure children get complete nutrition. Rice, vegetable curry, boiled egg, peanut chikki and other nutritious items are included in the menu.