Siddaramaiah unveils ambitious Re 1 kg rice scheme

Siddaramaiah unveils ambitious Re 1 kg rice scheme

Karnataka government today launched its ambitious initiative to supply 30 kg of rice at Re one to nearly one crore poor families across the state that would entail an outgo of Rs 4,200 crore a year.

The "Anna Bhagya" scheme was unveiled by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah here while in-charge ministers did so in district headquarters, in what the Opposition sees as a bid to woo poor people ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

The scheme, which Congress promised in its manifesto ahead of May 5 Assembly elections, was originally planned to be implemented from June 1, but postponed due to problems relating to supply.

In view of the huge cost involved, the scheme has come under criticism from some quarters, including Opposition BJP which has dubbed the programme a "hasty decision" without doing home-work.

Reacting to this charge, Siddaramaiah in his address at the launch function said to implement any pro-poor scheme it is necessary that the government shows urgency. "Can the government delay pro-people schemes," he asked.

He also refuted the Opposition's claims that the scheme is being implemented in a haste in view of the Lok Sabha polls. "We haven't taken this decision in view of Lok Sabha polls but in view of Congress tradition of helping the needy," he said.

The chief minister also said instead of pondering over the huge sum of money to be spent on the implementation of the scheme, it is important to give food to the poor who struggle even to get two meals in a day. "The government is there for giving justice to the deprived and the hungry," he said.

On criticism that the beneficiaries would become lazy, he said "If that is so, have people of Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh become lazy. Their states also have introduced similar schemes. These are baseless and politically-motivated statements."

Eighty-seven lakh BPL cardholders and 11 lakh "Anthyodaya Anna Yojane"
beneficiaries are covered under the scheme under which single member cardholders would get 10 kg per month, two-member ones 20 kg and three and above would get a maximum of 30 kg.

To meet the huge demand, Karnataka plans to buy rice from Chhattisgarh, India's "rice bowl", at Rs 23.30.

Siddaramaiah also threw light on government's initiative to alleviate the problems of the poor.

He said the government has decided to give 150 ml of milk thrice a week to Anganwadi, primary and SSLC students.

"Karnataka is producing 55 lakh litres of milk everyday and Karnataka Milk Federation is facing difficulty to sell it. Therefore we have decided to give it to the school children."

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