The Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation has been permitted to take a Rs.1,000-crore loan for procurement of paddy this year.
Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has cleared the proposal, a senior official in the Cooperation, Food and Civil Supplies Department says, adding that the loan will be extended by ICICI Bank. Some months ago, the Corporation had taken a loan of Rs.500 crore from Axis Bank.
For the current year, the government has fixed a target of 16 lakh tonnes of paddy to be procured through the corporation. Last year, the procurement touched 18 lakh tonnes. This year, about 1.4 lakh tonnes have been procured so far.
The paddy procured is converted into rice, which is adjusted against the Central allotment and utilised in the public distribution system.
During 2009-2010, the Civil Supplies Corporation took loans of Rs.1,800 crore for paddy procurement from different banks, including Allahabad Bank, Corporation Bank, State Bank of India and ICICI Bank.
The official says the State government's undertaking takes loans from banks that offer low rates of interest.
All arms of the Cooperation, Food and Civil Supplies Department are gearing themselves for the distribution of 1.9 crore Pongal bags, containing ingredients necessary for ‘sweet pongal', which is made essentially with rice and jaggery.
Other ingredients include broken green gram (moong dhal), cashew, dry grapes and cardamom.
The bags, containing rice and jaggery of 500 grams each, broken green gram of 100 gram, cashew of 10 grams and dry grapes and cardamom of five grams each, will be given to all family card holders during January 1-15. The government has set apart Rs.90 crore for the purpose. The cost of each bag will be about Rs.52.5. Swaran Singh, Principal Secretary (Cooperation, Food and Civil Supplies), says the Civil Supplies Corporation, in early November, floated tenders for the supply of ingredients and two weeks later, finalised them. For each ingredient, eight to nine suppliers participated. Suppliers from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh took part in the tenders, apart from those in Tamil Nadu. At a function at Pallavaram on Saturday, the Chief Minister will inaugurate the distribution of Pongal bags.
He will also launch distribution of free dhotis and saris to the poor.