Bhubaneswar, Dec. 12: The Congress-led Opposition today targeted the Naveen Patnaik government alleging that subsidised rice being distributed to the poor people in the state was less than what was being provided by the Centre. Instead of 35 kg of rice, stipulated by the Centre, the state government is giving only 25 kg.
However, food and civil supplies minister Pratap Keshari Deb refuted the allegations stating that the Congress was trying to politicise the issue. Expressing displeasure over the minister’s reply, the Congress staged a walk out in the Odisha Assembly.
Moving an adjournment motion, the Opposition alleged that the state government was giving only 25 kg rice to each BPL family though the Centre had allocated 35 kg for each of them. “Food grains meant for poor are not reaching them. The state government is virtually feasting on the rest 10 kg rice,” remarked Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan warning that the state government would be held responsible for any starvation death.
The state Congress has also decided that it would go to the public urging them to demand that government should give them back their 10kg of rice which they were being deprived of. Besides the rice scheme, the party also decided to go the people highlighting the 16 central funded welfare schemes being implemented in the state.
The fact was earlier brought to light when Union minister of chemicals and fertilisers Srikant Jena accused the state government of mismanagement of subsidised food grains provided by the Centre resulting in a loss to the targeted beneficiaries.
The Opposition members today claimed that the Centre was providing subsidised rice for around 50 lakh families at the rate of 35 kg per family. The Union government was giving subsidy ranging between Rs 16 and Rs 19 per kg for various categories.
“There is a complete mismatch between the BPL figures of different departments of the state government,” said Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh.
Defending the government, the minister said that the state had allocated 97,131 metric tonnes of subsidised rice from the Centre every month for 27.76 lakh BPL families only. But the state has to distribute it to 42.32 lakh families. “That’s why we have decided to distribute 25 kg of rice instead of 35 kg to each family,” the minister said. He added if the BPL rice had to be distributed at 35 kg per family, the state would require an additional 50,989 metric tonnes of rice.
“The allocation of 97,131 metric tonnes of rice received from the Centre is not even adequate to meet the requirement of 42.32 lakh families even at 25 kg per family every month. An additional quantity of 8669.275 metric tonnes of rice per month is met from the state pool,” he added.
Apart from the BPL scheme, the Centre has been allocating subsidised rice for 7.42 lakh above poverty line (APL) families of eight KBK districts since 2002 and they are now getting 35 kg of rice.
Deb said no survey of BPL families has been conducted after 1997 and the study had estimated the total number of BPL families in the state to be 48.58 lakh. However, the Centre disputed the figure.
The Planning Commission drastically reduced the number of BPL families of the state to 32.98 lakh. However, 35 kg of rice per family is currently being given to 27. 76 lakh families every month. “But since we have to cover all the families in the BPL category according to our own estimates we are giving 25 kg of rice,” he added.