Government imposes new restrictions on rice scheme

The subsidised rice scheme for families living below the poverty line will be implemented by the State government from July 1 with some restrictions wherein the amount of rice to be made available will depend on the size of the family.

The State Cabinet, which met here on Thursday, discussed the scheme and ways of implementing it since the availability of rice from the Central pool for the public distribution system is much less than what is required. A one-member family (nearly eight lakh cards) will be eligible for 10 kg of rice, two members will be eligible for 20 kg and families with more than two members will be eligible for not more than 30 kg.

Briefing presspersons on the decisions taken at the Cabinet meeting, the Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs T.B. Jayachandra said the shortfall of one lakh tonnes of rice would be made good with purchases from the open market, particularly the government-run corporations in Orissa and Chhattisgarh. The government is also contemplating e-tendering through the national commodity exchange and as per present estimation , a kg of rice bought from the market (including the transportation cost) is expected to cost around Rs. 30. While around 2.45 lakh tonnes is the quantum required (including the rice required for the other categories) , the Union government releases around 1.40 lakh tonnes .

It has also been estimated that the government will now have to bear an expenditure of Rs. 4,300 crore for the foodgrains subsidy scheme compared with the Rs. 1300 crore expenditure , hitherto. In due course, the government will also decide on providing wheat or ragi or even jowar in lieu of rice, which is the demand of the people in some of the regions of the State . While Chief Minister Siddaramaiah will launch the scheme in Bangalore on July 1, the district in-charge ministers will launch the scheme in their respective districts on or before July 10.

Surplus milk

Mr Jayachandra said the State government was also confronted with surplus milk production and a decision would be taken on Friday to provide milk to children in anganwadis and some government schools (about seven lakh litres) . After the onset of the southwest monsoon, the total milk production in the State has increased to 54 lakh litres a day while the requirement is only around 34 lakh litres. The milk powder production plants in the State can handle up to 10 lakh litres of milk, while the remaining 10 lakh litres had to be processed outside the State resulting in a loss of Rs. 43 crore per month.

He said unlike in the past it is impossible to declare a holiday for milk procurement, more so, with the government itself raising the cash incentive to milk producers from Rs. 2 to Rs. 4 a litre about a fortnight ago. Nor can the State Government impose a ban on the sale of milk brought here from the neighbouring States.

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