Anoop Jacob moots introduction of mobile ATMs
Minister for Food Anoop Jacob said on Friday that the government would implement the direct cash transfer of subsidy only after detailed discussions.
Winding up the debate on a resolution moved by V.S. Sunil Kumar (CPI) in the Assembly, he said the scheme was devised to prevent diversion of the money spent on subsidising food grains.
He said the government could think of introducing mobile ATMs to make it easier for citizens to avail themselves of the direct cash transfer of subsidy.
Mr. Jacob said Kerala did not face a situation that could lead to food scarcity or starvation. The government’s market intervention had driven down the price of rice in the open market. Denying reports of storage loss at FCI godowns in the State, he said only transit loss had been reported.
Countering Mr. Kumar’s contention that Kerala was receiving only 36,000 tonnes of rice from the Centre, he said the State had received more than 12 lakh tonnes of rice and three tonnes of wheat in 2012.
The government, he said, had lifted the entire allotment of 12.27 lakh tonnes of food grains last year.
“While BPL families are entitled to 25 kg of subsidised rice, APL consumers are eligible for 45 kg under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS),” he said.
Earlier, moving the resolution, Mr. Kumar alleged that the public distribution system in Kerala was in disarray. He said the flawed policies of the Centre had messed up the rationing system.
“The government today is procuring only 11 per cent of the food grains produced in the country, against the procurement of 50 per cent in 1997.” Mr. Kumar said the reduced production of rice from shrinking paddy farms, cut in the allotment from the Centre and the targeted rationing system had dealt a heavy blow for Kerala.
He said the tight control exercised by corporates over the food grains market had diminished the impact of the government’s intervention strategies. He alleged that the bank subsidy scheme was aimed at subverting the ration shop network.
Countering Mr. Kumar, Benny Behnan (Congress) claimed that the PDS system in Kerala was intact. He said Kerala’s allotment of food grains from the Centre had come down due to the reduced offtake during the period of the LDF government.
C. Raveendranath (CPI-M) said said the practice of stocking more than the offtake was responsible for the damage and destruction of food grains in the FCI godowns.
He said the only solution to the food grain crisis was to enhance the subsidy. The resolution was put to vote and defeated.