The state government recently held a lottery for allowance of liquor shops in Vizag. 386 liquor shops were selected in the presence of District Collector Pravin Kumar, Joint collector DV Reddy and excise department officials. But they have been receiving flak, with student protests happening at AU due to the venue chosen for the lottery.
Educationists have reportedly described it as a black day and enraged students marched towards the administration building to demand the lottery not be conducted at the AU Convocation Hall. Members of the YSRCP Student Union were part of the student protests. The Convocation Hall is named after the first Vice Chancellor and founder of the university – Sir Cattamanchi Ramalinga Reddy – a renowned personality who shaped the education policy of India. He is a social reformer who fought against alcoholism and the irony of the lottery being held at the hall named after him wasn’t lost.
B Kanta Rao, president of YSRCP Students’ Union, told TOI, “It is unfortunate that the authorities are behaving like touts and agents of the TDP. They seem to be totally under the influence of the state government. Recently we sought permission to conduct a seminar of special category status to Andhra Pradesh and it was turned down.” The AU Convocation Hall is the place where the first Assembly session of Andhra Pradesh was held in 1954 and several eminent personalities have been honoured and bestowed with degrees here during 81 convocations.
“It is a shame that convocation hall is today the venue for the liquor vendors. Eminent personalities of international repute, Sir CV Raman the only noble laureate from Andhra University and first President of Independent India Dr Sarvepalle Radhakrishnan taught here. We the scholars were shocked to see the liquor barons and their goons hovering on the campus,’’ a research scholar told The Hans India, requesting anonymity.
“This is the place where Pandit Ravi Shankar gave his wonderful concert in the late 70s. And by conducting a liquor shops draw what message we are giving to the students? I know in the past several students were thrown out from the campus for good for consuming alcohol in the hostel. Now we are encouraging them to consume liquor,’’ said a woman professor who teaches Humanities.
The AU authorities were caught unaware by the student protests and Registrar Prof V Uma Maheswara Rao stated that he was unaware of what purpose the district administration had sought the venue for. He said, “We were unaware of the nature of the event and will not allow such events to be conducted on the campus.”
The district has earned Rs 32.92 crore as a fee for allocating the shops and the government earned Rs 2.49 crore via application fees and Rs 30.48 crores via registration fees.