K'taka: Govt to rob APL card holders of rice to feed BPL families

State needs 2.84 lakh metric tonnes per month for the new scheme

K'taka: Govt to rob APL card holders of rice to feed BPL families

The Congress government has decided to discontinue providing rice to all Above Poverty Line (APL) ration card holders under the public distribution system (PDS) from next month, and divert foodgrain available under the APL quota for implementing its ambitious Re 1-per-kg rice scheme for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families.

The Food and Civil Supplies department has been providing 10 kg rice to each APL ration card holder every month at Rs 10 per kg. It will now be discontinued, enabling the government to implement the new rice scheme which is scheduled to be launched on July 1, official sources said.

A decision to this effect was taken at a recently-held meeting chaired by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and top officials of the Finance and Food and Civil Supplies departments. It was, however, decided to restore rice to APL card holders once the State starts getting adequate quantity of rice from the Centre – likely after the the proposed Food Security Bill is enacted.

Interestingly, Siddaramaiah had recently said that his government will continue providing rice to APL card holders under the PDS along with implementing the Re 1 per kg rice scheme.

The State needs 2.84 lakh metric tonnes of rice per month for the new rice scheme.
But it is getting 1.77 lakh MT of rice per month from the Centre, including 85,000 MT for 34 lakh APL card holders. The APL rice will now be diverted to the new scheme.

It will considerably ease the burden on the government. Besides, the State Cabinet meeting chaired by the chief minister on Thursday decided to retain unit system (system of fixing quntum of rice per person) under its proposed scheme to lessen its financial burden.

The government, however, has to procure still an additional 1.07 lakh MT of rice every month from the open market for the scheme.

Official sources said a majority of the APL card holders was not buying rice under the PDS till the last few years. But the demand increased of late due to the steep hike in rice prices. A kg of widely-used Sona Masuri rice costs Rs 56 in open market, while ordinary rice (also called dosa rice) costs Rs 28 per kg.

As the Food and Civil Supplies Department provides rice – which is similar to the rice which is ususally used for dosa batter – at Rs 10 per kg, more and more APL families had been buying from ration shops, officials explained.

When contacted, Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Dinesh Gundu Rao said the government has no plans to provide rice to APL card holders as of now.

“Our focus is on supplying rice to BPL families under the new scheme. Moreover, rice meant for APL card holders was misused.

“There was a lot of diversion. This will be stopped now,” he added.

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