Tamil Nadu

Ration cardholders in T.N. to get ₹ 1,000 Pongal gift

Scheme may cost govt. around ₹ 2,300 crore

Approximately two crore family cardholders in Tamil Nadu are expected to receive a cash dole of ₹ 1,000 each as part of the Pongal gift scheme announced by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Tuesday.

Addressing an event to mark the inauguration of Kallakurichi, the State’s 34th district, the Chief Minister said the government would disburse the cash to each of the rice cardholders.

Explaining the rationale behind the gift scheme, Mr. Palaniswami said it was implemented a year ago to “mitigate the sufferings” of farmers and other sections of society, who were in the midst of a drought. But, this year, the State witnessed copious rains and the government wanted the people to “enjoy the festival” of Pongal.

“We are implementing what we have announced and we will go by the welfare of the people,” he said.

According to the portal of the public distribution system of the State government, there are 82,60,657 priority household (PHH) cards and 18,58,648 (PHH-Antyodaya Anna Yojana AAY cards), totalling 1,01,19,305 cards. All these cards are covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

Besides, there are about 92 lakh family cards drawing rice free of cost, even though they are outside the ambit of the NFSA. These cards are called Non-PHH (NPHH). The State government, as a matter of policy, does not make any distinction between PHH & AAY cards and NPHH cards for the purpose of giving rice free.

Sugar cardholders

In addition, the overall number may go up with the government’s decision to allow sugar cardholders to avail themselves of rice too. There are around 10.12 lakh sugar cards, which are, as of now, not entitled to draw rice. A senior official says that as per a conservative estimate, one half of them — five lakhs — may take the rice option.

Apart from cash, the cardholders will get one kg of raw rice, two kg of sugar, a two-foot-long sugarcane and a pack containing 20 grams each of cashew nut and “kismis,” and 5 grams of cardamom. This may cost another ₹ 200 to 300 crore.

Roughly, ₹ 2,300 crore may be required for the scheme. The expenditure incurred by the Food and Consumer Protection Department, according to the 2019-20 policy note of the department, was ₹ 2,246.6 crore towards the Pongal gift scheme.

Food Minister R. Kamaraj told The Hindu that the exact figures with regard to the eligible cards and the cost would be known only when the relevant government order is issued.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 10:35:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/ration-cardholders-in-tn-to-get-1000-pongal-gift/article30091540.ece

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