Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Dinesh Gundu Rao told reporters in Bangalore that the State would call for tenders from suppliers to support the Re. 1 rice scheme from August. If their prices do not match those offered by the Chhattisgarh government, the State will continue to buy from the latter.

The government was also considering options such as procuring directly from farmers and strictly enforcing the levy system of collecting rice from the rice mill owners. Though the rice mill owners were supposed to provide 4 to 5 lakh tonnes of rice a year to the government under the levy scheme, at present only about 50,000 tonnes was being collected.

To eliminate bogus cards, he said his department had given till July-end for BPL card holders to enter into the biometric system. At least 10 lakh cards are likely to be eliminated through this process.

Mr. Dinesh Gundu Rao denied the argument that ending distribution of subsidised rice for the Above Poverty Line card holders in a bid to divert the foodgrain for the Re. 1-a-kg rice scheme would trigger a price rise in the open market. “The statistics and the reviews have shown that there was no consistent supply of rice for the APL card holders. Besides, most of the quantum of rice sanctioned for distribution to the APL card holders was actually being diverted to the open market illegally as there were no takers,” he said.

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