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Jungle Mahal cheap rice net widened

Calcutta, June 1: Mamata Banerjee today widened the ambit of an affordable rice scheme in the Maoist-affected Jungle Mahal.

Tribals earning less than Rs 42,000 a year will be eligible to buy rice at Rs 2 a kg. The annual income limit has been raised by Rs 18,000.

Non-tribals also have been given some relief. A consumer in this category can buy the Rs 2 rice if the annual income is less than Rs 36,000. Earlier, non-tribals were required to have a below poverty line card to be eligible for the rice scheme.

The people of Jungle Mahal — which comprises parts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia — will now get their monthly quota of 35kg of rice at the subsidised rate from ration shops.

Ebaar eta chalu hoye gelo (now this scheme has started),” the chief minister told reporters at Writers’ today. “I had a meeting with the food minister and the chief secretary. We have decided to launch the project in all the blocks of Jungle Mahal,” she said, adding that the scheme would be monitored on a monthly basis.

Sources said the state government had started a survey in Jungle Mahal to find out the exact number of beneficiaries. Food department officials along with the local administration are working on fixing the number of people who will get the subsidised rice.

Food minister Jyotipriya Mullick will visit Jungle Mahal by the end of this week to monitor the progress of the survey.

The sources said Mamata was working on a development package for the rebel-affected belt.

“Our focus will be on improving basic services such as health, education, drinking water and sanitation,” a senior Trinamul leader said.

During the Left Front regime, tribals in Jungle Mahal with annual incomes of less than Rs 24,000 used to get rice at Rs 2 per kg.

In the rest of the state, including non-tribals in Jungle Mahal, all BPL card-holders used to get rice at the subsidised rate.

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