To be distributed at hospitals, bus and railway stations

The government has not yet named its proposed midday meal scheme for the migrant urban poor, and it is definitely not ‘Siddu Canteen’ as rumoured in sections of the media, said Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Dinesh Gundu Rao.

Speaking to presspersons here on Wednesday, Mr. Dinesh Gundu Rao said the department is working out the modalities of the scheme, including the price, which would be finalised by May-end.

While the department would be in overall supervision of the scheme, talks are on with private parties, including the ISKCON, for delivering the meals.

There would not be any large-scale distribution of meals. The distribution points would be located at bus and railway stations, and hospitals where large number of migrant and poor people visit, the Minister said.

Though the scheme is intended to be operational in urban areas across the State, a pilot project would be carried out, either in Bangalore or Mysore, he said.

Levy rice

Mr. Rao said the government has sought powers from the Central government to fix the quantity of paddy/rice to be collected under ‘levy’ from millers and dealers, instead of getting prior approval from the Centre every time.

He said though the Karnataka Rice Milling Regulation and Rice and Paddy Procurement (Levy) Order, 1999, is in place directing millers/dealers to sell 33.33 per cent of rice or paddy to the government, there is resistance from millers to offer the levy. Hence, the government has been prescribing the quantity ad hoc every year, which can be questioned in courts.

Keen on paddy

Therefore, the government has sought powers for itself from the Centre to fix the quantity to be procured. Rather than collecting levy rice, the government is keen on procuring paddy directly from farmers by paying market price and getting it milled through ‘custom milling’ on millers’ premises, the Minister said. The procured paddy would be milled and the rice would be distributed in the same region, thereby minimising transportation cost. The Minister said the custom milling scheme would thus be beneficial to farmers who would get better price for their produce. The government will also announce the minimum support price for ragi and jowar to be procured for the Anna Bhagya scheme ahead of the sowing season, thereby encouraging farmers to grow such crops in large quantities. Anyway, ragi and jowar are healthier staples than rice, he said.