Karnataka cheap rice for poor scheme further delayed

Bangalore, June 13 (IANS) Karnataka’s Congress government’s ambitious scheme to provide 30kg rice per month to poor families at Re.1 a kg is expected to take off by July 10 and not July 1 as rescheduled from the earlier deadline of June 1.

“The cabinet meeting today (Thursday) decided that the scheme would be launched by July 10 by Chief Minister (Siddaramaiah) in Bangalore and in the districts by ministers in charge of the districts,” Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T. B. Jayachandra told reporters here.

Siddaramaiah, who took over as chief minister May 13 after the Congress won the May 5 assembly election routing the Bharatiya Janata Party, had announced that day that cheap rice scheme for BPL (Below Poverty Line) card holders would be launched June 1.

However he was forced to postpone it to July 1 as the expected additional rice supply from the central quota was not assured.

Jayachandra indicated that the central government might not supply the additional quantum and the state would have to buy it from the open market.

“The state needs 245,000 tonnes of rice per month from the central government to implement the scheme where as at present it gets 142,000 tonnes,” he said.

“We are thinking of procuring the additional amount of rice from the open market. We are also considering whether to get it from other states through Food Corporation of India, ” Jayachandra said.

The cabinet also decided that the maximum of 30kg rice at Re.1 a kg would be sold to only BPL families with more than two members in the family.

If the BPL card family has only two members, the entitlement would 20 kg and one member, the quantum sold would be 10kg.

The cheap rice scheme would cost the government Rs. 4,300 crore a year, Jayachandra said.

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