The enlarged scheme for supply of rice at Rs. 2 a kg to the poor will be launched at a function to be held at Neyyattinkara, near here, on Wednesday.

Minister for Food and Civil Supplies C. Divakaran told presspersons here on Tuesday that the scheme would now cover traditional workers and daily wage earners in the unorganised sector.

The Minister said Congress leaders were making misleading statements after the government took the decision to launch the scheme. They claimed the State was just providing rice supplied at Rs. 3 a kg by the Centre for Rs. 2 a kg. The Centre supplied rice under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (at Rs. 3 a kg.) for five lakh families only. The enlarged scheme would cover 36 lakh families which came to more than half of the ration card holders in the State.

The State provided subsidy at Rs. 4.20 a kg to 10 lakh below poverty line (BPL) families for whom the Centre supplied rice at Rs. 6.20 a kg. The total allotment was actually being distributed to 15 lakh families. For others, falling in the above poverty line (APL) category, the State provided a subsidy of Rs. 6.90 a kg, as the Centre was charging Rs. 8.90 a kg. Though the Centre had announced that it would provide food grains to all families at Rs. 3 a kg under the food security scheme, the scheme was yet to materialise.

Mr. Divakaran refuted the Opposition allegation that the State government had diverted rice allotted for the noon meal scheme for pupils. What the government had done was it sold the allotted rice through Supplyco, as the rice could not be stored for more than a month. Then, fresh supplies were used to replace the quantity sold. This had been communicated to the Accountant General, and the Accountant General had approved of the measure. It was unfortunate that Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy was repeating the allegations which had been given reply in the Assembly.

He said the State had made arrangements, including formation of local vigilance committees, to prevent diversion of subsidised rice. He hoped that the Centre would sanction the project submitted two weeks ago for distribution of essential articles through ration shops at subsidised rates. The total funding required was Rs. 337 crore.