The government will have to evolve a strategy to tackle the short supply of rice on implementing the National Food Security Bill.

A survey in 2009 had identified 26.33 lakh Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in addition to the 5.96 lakh families under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY). The number of Above Poverty Line (APL) families had been pegged at 49 lakh.

The State requires 25.32 lakh tonnes to meet the demand of these sections. If the allocation is slashed to 12.63 lakh tonnes on the basis of the proposed inclusion, it will be a tough proposition for the government.

For, this is much lower than the inadequate allocation of 17.79 tonnes made in the last financial year.

As per the exclusion criteria proposed in the Bill, about 123 lakh people in 29.53 lakh families which are at present receiving the benefits of the targeted public distribution system too stand a chance of being excluded from the system.

In this context, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Anoop Jacob has apprised the Centre of the distinct features of the public distribution system in the State and sought to protect the current allocation at the existing rates so that the grain supply to the beneficiaries will remain unaffected.

Official sources told The Hindu here that the Centre had directed to workout a proposal so that rice was distributed at the APL rate, at Rs.8.90 per kg, or an affordable rate.

In order to address the possibility of short supply, the Centre had proposed to take an average of the quantity of grain lifted by the government during the past three years as a benchmark for the allocations on implementing the Bill. The Food and Civil Supplies Department would soon hold a session to iron out a strategy to sustain the supply to the target groups, the sources said.

The current two-tier distribution system, wholesaler to retailer, would cease to exist on switching over to the door-to-door delivery system.

State requires 25.32 lakh tonnes to meet the demand.

Centre to set benchmark for allocations

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