The State government on Tuesday announced that rice would be made available at Rs. 2 a kg to below poverty the line families through the public distribution system.

The new subsidy will be implemented with immediate effect, obviously with an eye on the coming elections to the Legislative Assembly.

BPL card holders were hitherto eligible for rice at Rs. 3 a kg.

There are nearly 88.5lakh BPL cards in the State, and the additional burden on the State exchequer is expected to be around Rs. 160 crore a year.

Five-hour meeting

The Cabinet, which met here for nearly five hours, is stated to have discussed and approved nearly 100 proposals, ranging from construction of roads and bridges to approvals for major projects such as upgrading State highways with loans obtained from the World Bank.

Most of the subjects discussed and approved related to Assembly constituency-specific projects.

Briefing presspersons on the decisions taken, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri said the subsidised rice scheme that was announced in the budget was originally scheduled to be implemented from April 1. Each family will be entitled to not more than 20 kg a month, and each member of a family will be eligible for 4 kg.

The Cabinet also approved the upgrading of 3,700 km of State highways to be undertaken under the second phase of the Karnataka State Highways Improvement Project. Another important proposal that was cleared related to increasing grants to muzrai temples from Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 24,000 a year.

The other important decisions included in-principle approval for a water grid canal to supply drinking water to Kolar, Ramanagaram, Bangalore Rural and Tumkur districts from rivulets in the Western Ghats, solar power projects in several districts andconstruction of Morarji Desai and Rani Chennamma residential schools in several districts, lifting the ban on the export of sand from Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts, acceptance of the Shivaraj Patil report on child marriages and construction of a flyover at the Rani Chennamma Circle in Bangalore.

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