In a move to replace the existing Fair Price Shops (FPS) i.e Ration Shops into Chandranna Village Malls, Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP government has initiated a Pilot Project in Guntur and Vijayawada (which will be soon launched in other districts). The Chandranna Village Malls will sell essential foodstuff at a price 20 per cent less than the price in the open market. Over 300 varieties of items with 20 per cent discount on MPRs would be for sale at the village malls. So far it is fine.
However, it is learnt that both Reliance and Future Group – prominent FMCG firms – have come forward to take the village malls into public. As per the government’s agreement with the firms, Reliance would start the malls in 10 districts of Andhra Pradesh and Future Group (which owns Big Bazaar and Heritage) would set up the village malls in East Godavari, West Godavari and Nellore districts. Both these corporate FMCG gaints have been permitted by the AP Government to operate the malls.
The whole plan of the Ap governnment is to replace the existing 29,000 Fair Price Shops aka ration shops (FPS) into village malls all over the state. While the idea sounds good, the execution is inviting criticism. Opposition is criticising the government that the malls would only benefit Reliance and Future Group. Since Future Group has an open business association with Heritage (owned by Chandrababu Naidu & Family), the allegations gained more significance.
Even people seems to be divided over government’s decision to put malls. While a few support govt’s move as it is people’s choice whether to buy the goods or not, a few other oppose the move stating that this would be a death knell to small store keepers and other retail shop owners who are already in difficulty to make their ends meet. Pro-Chandranna Mall move say that this would benefit middle-class people as the goods would get at subsidized prices. However, there have been doubts over practical issues that come with it.
Meanwhile, AP government is maintaining a stoic silence over the allegations as only they have been launched in Guntur and Vijayawada for ‘testing’. Also, naming the malls after Naidu’s name is also drawing some criticism. On the whole, it needs to be seen how TDP government would deal with the issue in the days to come.