Nagesh Prabhu and T.S. Ranganna

Quota for APL families likely to be cut by 80 p.c.

Cut may hit midday meal and other schemes

BANGALORE: The Centre is likely to reduce the quantum of foodgrains supplied under the Karnataka quota of the public distribution system (PDS) by 80 per cent for the Above Poverty Line (APL) families. Although this massive reduction will be made from the APL quota, it will affect the distribution of foodgrains to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families and the implementation of midday meal scheme in schools and other government programmes.

The Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution is thinking of cutting the allocation in view of the fall in the procurement of foodgrains by the Food Corporation of India (FCI), officials in the Department of Food and Civil Supplies told The Hindu.

This has been communicated to the Chief Secretary. Reduced procurement would imply reduced allocations for the PDS as well as for the government schemes meant for the poor such as the Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana and the midday meal scheme, which have substantial foodgrains components, the officials said.

The Centre had reduced the State quota under the APL category from 1.39 lakh tonnes a month in 2006-07 to 1.04 lakh tonnes a month so far this year. If the Centre reduced the quota by 80 per cent, the State would get only 27,000 tonnes of foodgrains a month under the APL quota, the officials said.

The Centre allocated 55,000 tonnes of rice and 18,994 tonnes of wheat a month to 32 lakh BPL families as estimated by the Planning Commission. But the State Government had issued BPL cards to 72 lakh families. Since a majority of the APL families were not buying the foodgrains, the Government had been diverting grain from this quota to 40 lakh “excess” BPL families. The Government had set aside Rs. 750 crore towards food subsidy in 2007-08.

Fall in procurement

The procurement of rice by FCI is likely to decline drastically this year. The procurement of rice had decreased to 206 lakh tonnes in 2006-07 from 276 lakh tonnes two years ago. With many multinational companies involved in procurement of wheat, the Centre asked MNCs to issue declaration certificates if they procured over 50,000 tonnes of foodgrains. This was done to assess the food security in the country, the officials said.

The Centre had curtailed the State quota of wheat under PDS.