As it moves ahead to implement the Food Security Act, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday has decided not to trim the number of existing ration card holders to fit the quota set by the Centre. Instead, it will provide grains at its own cost to ration card holders who fall outside the quota. The Centre will provide ration grains to 7 crore beneficiaries in Maharashtra under the Food Security Act.

However, the State has 8.77 crore people eligible to ration under the public distribution system. The State Cabinet has declared that it will provide ration grains at Above Poverty Line (APL) rates to 1.77 crore beneficiaries, thus eliminating the need to reduce the number of ration card holders.

“We will meet the gap at a cost of Rs. 1,100 crores per year,” said State Food and Civil Supplies Minister Anil Deshmukh. He said Maharashtra hoped to be among the first States to implement the Food Security Act, slating its introduction by the end of December.

In Maharashtra, 7 crore beneficiaries will be eligible to ration grains at Rs. 2 per kg of wheat and Rs. 3 per kg of rice under the Food Security Act. The 1.77-crore APL card holders will get wheat at Rs. 7.20 per kg and rice at Rs. 9.60 per kg.