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Summer hike in food quota

New Delhi, May 2: The Supreme Court today directed the Central and state governments to provide more foodgrain and cereal to the poor under the “food for work” scheme, the Prime Minister’s Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana and the Antyodaya Anna Yojana.

A bench of Justices Y.K. Sabharwal and H.K. Sema ordered the Centre give double the quota of grains to all states in May, June and July. The allotment for poor people was ordered to be increased during this period.

Under the Sampoorna Yojana, the Centre allocates Rs 5,000 crore and five million metric tonnes of grains to states every year. However, for the three months, this will now be increased to Rs 10,000 crore and 10 million metric tonnes of grains per year, one fourth of which has to be distributed in this period. The Centre will have to release the provision every month to all states and Union Territories.

The order came on a Public Interest Litigation by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, saying foodgrain rot in government godowns across the country while millions go hungry.

The apex court had earlier ordered free distribution of grains to the poorest of the poor and allowed the government to formulate schemes like “food for work” and the Sampoorna Yojana.

The Centre has also been ordered to file an affidavit by July 15, detailing the implementation of various interim orders of the court. “We direct that on pro-rata basis the recommendation — that the present Sampoorna Yojana scheme be expanded or at least doubled — be implemented both in regards to grains as also cash for the months of May, June and July,” the Supreme Court said in its order.

The court ordered that state governments “shall lift the allocations and ensure that the same reaches those for whom it is meant”. A copy of the order has been sent to all state chief secretaries and the court has sought affidavits from them by August 18, detailing the implementation of the new order. The matter has been posted for hearing to August 19.

States that have not yet begun the mid-day meal scheme have been directed to do so “forthwith”. All government and aided schools must provide meals containing at least 300 calories of protein to students at mid-day.

The apex court pointed out that several states, especially Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand, have not started the scheme.

PUCL contended that a number of families were still not being accorded Below Poverty Line (BPL) status. It said the states should evolve a system to determine BPL families and they should inform PUCL on the scheme.

The apex court ordered that ration shops under the Public Distribution System (PDS) be kept open in May, June and July and warned that any violation of law by these shops would attract the penal action of cancellation of licence.

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