Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan has demanded that the government decision to reduce ration rice by six kg a month for below poverty line (BPL) cardholders and 4.5 kg a month for above poverty line (APL) cardholders be withdrawn.

Talking to reporters here on Friday, Mr. Achuthanandan said the decision would undermine public distribution system (PDS) and cause hefty increase in price of rice. The APL cardholders would not go to ration shops for just six kg of rice for which they were eligible in a month now.

Mr. Achuthanandan recalled that the State government had not been able to press the Centre to restore quotas of grains slashed as part of cutting subsidies. Union Minister of State K.V. Thomas and Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Anoop Jacob were making conflicting statements on reduction in quotas. So, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy should clarify the position.

CPI legislature party leader C. Divakaran also expressed concern that the price of rice would go up in the coming days. While Prof. Thomas said that Kerala had not lifted the rice allocated to it, Mr. Jacob was maintaining that the State was not getting its quota.

Mr. Divakaran also called for strong measures to end corruption in the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco). Officials who had been charge-sheeted were still continuing in service in Supplyco, he said.

RSP leader A.A. Azeez said it was cruel to cut the quota of rice for the State when it was facing severe drought and price rise. However, the Ministers from the State were remaining silent.

He said the RSP State committee would picket the Secretariat on April 17 in protest against the anti-people policies of the State and Central governments.

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