The Election Commission has put on hold the State government’s ambitious programme of distribution of rice at Rs. 2 a kg to below poverty line families under the public distribution system.

The commission has directed the Food and Civil Supplies Department not to distribute rice at Rs. 2 a kg till the completion of election process to the State Legislative Assembly.

“We have instructed the Department not to implement the order on providing rice at subsided prices since the model code of conduct came into force,” Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha told presspersons here on Thursday.

With an eye on the Assembly elections, the government had decided to distribute rice at Rs. 2 per kg to 88.5 lakh BPL families in the State. Under the scheme, it has decided to provide four kg of rice to each member and maximum of 20 kg of rice a family. The programme would cost the State exchequer an additional Rs. 160 crore. Earlier, the price was Rs. 3 per kg.

In the State budget, the government proposed to reduce the price of rice for BPL families from April 1. But the government advanced the implementation of the scheme a month to gain electoral support in the ensuing election, the Opposition parties alleged.

It may be noted here that the Deputy Commissioner of Chikmagalur has not allowed the government to launch the programme at Koppa on March 21.