Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Monday expressed willingness to hold discussions with the Opposition on their objections about payment of ration subsidies through banks.

The Chief Minister told an LDF delegation, who submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister on the subsidy and other issues, that he was always willing for discussions before the proposal is implemented. He would also consult his colleagues as to whether a discussion on the issue could be taken up during the Assembly session beginning on December 10.

The delegation, led by Opposition Leader V. S. Achuthanandan, contended that the payment of ration subsidies through banks would cause inconvenience to the ration card holders and undermine the statutory rationing system.

Endosulfan:

The Opposition urged that the government should implead in the case filed by the DYFI before the Supreme Court seeking a ban on manufacture and use of endosulfan. The empowered committee appointed by the court had submitted a report that was intended to help the endosulfan manufacturers’ lobby. However, the government had failed to intervene.

The delegation also called upon the Chief Minister to rectify the inadequacies in the implementation of the relief and remediation programme for endosulfan victims. The compensation ordered by the National Human Rights Commission should be extended to all the 4182 persons initially identified as victims and 1200 victims identified subsequently in medical camps.

It further demanded that land belonging to the Kumaranasan Memorial at Thonnackal should not be acquired for national highway development. It also opposed payment of welfare pensions through banks and the proposal to make aadhar cards mandatory for students to get scholarships and other benefits. The Centre should be pressed to restrict imports of palmolein and measures taken to procure coconut and make coconut cultivation profitable.

Talking to the media after receiving the representation of the Opposition, the Chief Minister said that payment of ration subsidy through banks for APL category of ration card holders was proposed to plug leakage of subsidy. Successive government had not been able to stem the leakage. Smart cards were to be insisted upon for supply of rice at Re. 1 to BPL card holders to prevent misuse of the scheme.

He said that the government was willing to consider demands of the ration dealers for increase in commissions. However, the government’s objective of plugging leakages was to be achieved. It was also not possible to concede their demand that they should be made government employees.

Mr. Chandy said that compensation had already been ordered for bed-ridden and mentally challenged victims of endosulfan. The demand that it should be provided to other affected persons would be considered. The government was effectively intervening in the case before the Supreme Court and he had convinced the Opposition about that. The State was not toeing the stand of the Central government in this regard.

On the proposal to pay welfare pensions through banks, the Chief Minister said that the government would consider giving the disabled and other incapacitated persons an option of receiving pension through money order. Introduction of Aadhar for all was a good scheme and Kerala might become first State with 100 per cent coverage under Aadhar scheme. Then, the complaint that students would be denied their benefits for want of unique identification would not arise.

He said that he would discuss the issue about acquisition of land belonging to the Kumaranasan Memorial with officials concerned. As to coconut procurement, the State government had already announced a State incentive for procurement of coconuts by cooperatives.