West Bengal had demanded 4.03 lakh metric tons rice, 3.23 lakh metric tons wheat extra from the Centre for BPL category

Stating that the Centre has stopped allocation of additional foodgrains for people living below the poverty level in the backward regions of West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday that disbursement of foodgrains at Rs.2 per kg will continue.

“There is a limit to everything. We used to get additional funds for the Jangalmahal region, the Darjeeling hills and the closed tea gardens. Suddenly they (Centre) have said that the distribution of subsidised foodgrains to the families living below the poverty line will stop,” Ms. Banerjee said, adding that her government will continue with distribution of foodgrains even after the Centre stops allocation.

She made the comments at a public rally at Jhilimili in Bankura district.

Ms. Banerjee had written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday seeking an additional allocation of 4.03 lakh metric tons of rice and 3.23 lakh metric tons of wheat for the year 2013-14, the State Food & Supplies Minister Jyotipriya Mullick told journalists at the State Assembly later in the day.

“In case the Centre does not concede our demands the State Government will continue to provide foodgrains but it will require an additional Rs.46 crore every month,” he said.

Mr Mullick also refuted allegations that the State Government had not been able to utilise the additional foodgrains allocated for the year 2012-13.

 The State Government had utilised 77 per cent of the rice allocated and 83 per cent of the wheat assigned for West Bengal until February, he said.

“The State Government had announced that all the tribals living in the 24 blocks of the Jangalmahal region of the State will be treated as people below the poverty line and will be distributed subsidised foodgrains,” Mr Mullick, said, adding that the number of beneficiaries in the region alone is 1,970,789.

 In addition, 95,923 workers of closed tea gardens and people from backward communities like Toto, Birhor, Sabar and Lodha are also provided foodgrains from the additional allocations made to the State, he said.

  • “Will incur an additional Rs.46 crore every month”

  • People in Jangalmahal region, Darjeeling hills and closed tea gardens might suffer