CM's defence for free rice: Poverty more in State

'Poor constitute 23.6 per cent of total population in Karnataka'

CM's defence for free rice: Poverty more in State
The State government is providing free rice to four crore people of the nearly six crore population under the Anna Bhagya scheme. The reason? Compared to the other southern states, the highest poverty is in Karnataka.

This was how Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday defended his pet scheme Anna Bhagya while launching the modified food grain programme under the public distribution scheme for the priority families or BPL families and to those who fall under the Anna Antyodaya category. A programme was organised in the Vidhana Soudha premises to symbolically distribute free rice and wheat to three select women.

From May 1, people holding BPL cards inclusive of Anna Antyodaya beneficiaries, would get five kgs of food grain and subsidised sugar, palm oil and iodized salt free.

While in north Karnataka, 3 kgs of rice and two kgs of wheat would be provided, in the South 4 kgs of rice and 1 kg of wheat would be given free. One kg of salt would cost Rs 2, while a litre of palm oil will be sold at Rs 25. There are nearly 1.08 crore families identified as poor falling under BPL.

Siddaramaiah said maximum number of poor families are in Karnataka compared to other states in the south. While in Andhra Pradesh, the poor constitute 21 per cent of the total population, in Tamil Nadu it is 17 per cent, Kerala 12 per cent and in Karnataka it is 23.6 per cent.

“I had seen many families in my village where the poor never had the opportunity to have rice. At least 85 pc of the families never had pleasure of eating rice, while only the rich class used to have rice. This led to malnutrition among children. So, I wanted to ensure that no poor goes without food. The government is committed to make the State free of hunger and malnutrition,” he said.

Right to live

He said the Constitution has guaranteed right to live for everyone. Keeping this in view, Anna Bhagya scheme has been launched. It would reach four crore people in the State.
The chief minister further defending the freebie he has rolled out said many were skeptical regarding the implementation of Anna Bhagya because it required funds. A legislator had said that the government would make people lazy through the scheme. “For centuries, the poor have been toiling hard. Let them relax now,” he said.

Siddaramaiah said from June 1, families coming under the Above Poverty Line would get subsidised ration. A kg of rice would cost Rs 15 and wheat Rs 10 a kg. A family with one person would get a maximum of 3 kg rice and 2 kg wheat and a family with more than one member would get a maximum of 5 kg rice and an equal quantum of wheat.

Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Dinesh Gundu Rao said earlier the government could purchase 1.40 lakh quintals of ragi by paying Rs 1,800 a quintal. Now, the price has been revised to Rs 2,000 and procurement has gone up to 14.40 lakh quintals. The government has not been able to purchase white jowar as per the target. Anna Bhagya has helped farmers, he asserted.

Receiving fresh
applications for BPL/APL cards began on May 1
Total families covered under Anna Bhagya  - 1.08 crore
Bogus ration cards cancelled – 8.75 lakh Procurement price by govt for ragi – Rs 2,000/quintal
Procurement price for whi­te jowar – Rs 2,300/quintal
Procurement price for
paddy – Rs 1,450/quintal
Budget allocation for Anna Bhagya scheme in 2014-15 -  Rs 4,360 cr
Money spent - Rs 2,605 crore
Money saved to the exchequer -  Rs 1,760 crore

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