: Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Hartal Halappa urged the Centre on Sunday to supply 25 kg of subsidised foodgrains to all the below poverty line (BPL) ration card-holders.

Mr. Halappa, who held discussions with the officials of his department and visited the Gokarnanatheshwara temple at Kudroli here, was talking to presspersons.

He said only about 32 lakh BPL card-holders out of a total of 1.06 crore such families were getting the benefit of the Central schemes at present.

(According to Vrishabharajendra, Deputy Director, Food and Civil Supplies Department, Dakshina Kannada, the BPL families are given a maximum of 20 kg of food grains at the rate of four kg a unit. They get rice and wheat at Rs. 3 a kg. Those holding the cards under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana — aimed at making the country hunger-free — get 35 kg of food grains a family, irrespective of the number of units. They get rice at Rs. 3 a kg and wheat at Rs. 2 a kg. This is a totally Central Government funded scheme. The Centre offers subsidised foodgrains to only 32 per cent of the total BPL and Antyodaya card-holders. The rest of the BPL card-holders get subsidised foodgrains from the State Government). The Minister said that he had learnt that the Centre was contemplating on revising the scheme and had even prepared a draft in this regard. It had recently sought the opinion of the States about the scheme. Mr. Halappa said that Karnataka had urged the Centre to provide 25 kg of foodgrains to all BPL card-holders to ensure food security. He said the Centre should be more liberal in identifying the below poverty line families. For example, the Centre’s norms prevent identification of two-wheeler owners as BPL family. He said ownership of a two-wheeler should not be made a criterion. On the allegation of the non-governmental organisation, Samudaya, that Karnataka had failed to provide food security compared to its neighbouring States, he said food security in the State could be ensured if the Centre extended the scheme.

Samudaya has launched a campaign on the issue by staging street plays and holding book exhibitions in the State.Although Government of Tamil Nadu had offered to supply rice at Rs. 1 a kg, the beneficiaries could get only about 10 kg, the Minister pointed out.

The beneficiaries had to pay a far higher price — Rs. 5 a kg or more — for additional quantity. He said this was comparable to what was being offered in Karnataka. A person purchasing 20 kg grains would pay the same amount as was being paid by his counterpart in Tamil Nadu, the Minister stated.

Mr. Halappa said there were a few affluent families in the BPL card-holders’ list in the State.A computer, with facility to photograph the beneficiaries, would be provided in all taluk headquarters to correct the mistakes during the next phase of ration card distribution, which would be done through a private firm in Karnataka. The process of installing the gadgets in Dakshina Kannada was on, he said. About 20,000 cards were still to be issued to beneficiaries in the district, Mr. Halappa added.

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