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Government ready to include ragi, jowar under PDS

Bangalore, July 10, 2013, DHNS: 1:52 IST
Welfare measure: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah distributes 30 kg rice to a beneficiary to mark the inauguration of the 'Anna Bhagya' scheme in the City on Wednesday. Food and Civil Supplies Minister Dinesh Gundurao is also with him. DH Photo
The State government is ready to include ragi and jowar under the public distribution system (PDS) if farmers are willing to grow more of these crops and sell them to it, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Wednesday.

The government will buy food grains directly from the farmers by paying the market price. “I urge the farmers to grow more food grains. The government is ready to buy ragi and jowar. We will buy giving fair price,” he said after launching ‘Anna Bhagya Yojane’ here.

Siddaramaiah handed over a bag of 30 kg rice to a BPL family at a public function at Freedom Park, off Seshadri Road, to mark the launching of the scheme.

Under the scheme, which was simultaneously launched in all districts, 10 kg of rice will be given per person and a maximum of 30 kg to a family.

Many Congress MLAs and ministers shared the dais with Siddaramaiah.

No objection

Earlier, Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said his department had no objection to the proposal to supply ragi and jowar through the PDS. But the hitch “is that the market may get upset” by the direct intervention of the government. The farmers should grow more food crops.

Ever since the Congress government announced the a Re 1 per kg rice scheme, there has been a demand to distribute food grains to people based on regional food habits.

While people in the old Mysore region prefer ragi, those in north Karnataka want jowar.

The government, too, is eager to supply ragi and jowar through the PDS so that the burden of buying costly rice will ease.

Further, Siddaramaiah strongly defended his government's flagship scheme saying Karnataka's percentage of poverty is the highest among south Indian States with 23. 6 per cent. Andhra Pradesh's poverty percentage is 21, Tamil Nadu’s is 17 and Kerala’s 12.

The Andhra Pradesh government has been supplying rice at Re 1 per kg, while Tamil Nadu is giving rice free of cost. “Have poor people in these states become lazy? Opposition parties are making baseless and politically motivated statements. The poor do not protest. They are not strong enough to retort. Hence, such statements are being made,” he added.

He said the opposition parties criticised him saying he was a man in a hurry. “One has to be in a hurry when it comes to the poor and the downtrodden. We cannot afford to delay the implementation of such schemes,” he stated. Siddaramaiah’s opponents in the State Congress had accused him of unilaterally announcing the scheme.

However, he made it a point to give credit to the party for the scheme. He said the scheme was part of the party's election manifesto and that the decision to make this promise to people was taken jointly by KPCC chief G Parameshwara and himself.

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