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Naveen starts rice scheme

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 2: Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik today launched the Re 1-per-kg-rice scheme in the Maoist-affected and tribal-dominated Malkangiri district, about 600km from here.

The chief minister had announced on Republic Day that his government would bring down the price of Rs 2 a kg rice by a rupee. Naveen launched the scheme by handing over the rice to a woman belonging to the Bonda primitive tribal community.

Launching the scheme at Dandakaranya playground, Naveen said his government would try to see that Odisha remained hunger free. The government introduced the Re 1-per-kg-rice scheme for the poor keeping the price rise of all essential commodities in view. “The scheme will certainly help the poor,” he said.

The chief minister also cautioned officials that the rice meant for the poor should not be siphoned off.

The earlier scheme cost the exchequer Rs 1,100 crore, while the new one will add an additional burden of Rs 300 crore per year. While 42 lakh BPL families will be benefited from the scheme, all students of various SC/ST hostels, physically challenged and the above poverty line (APL) families in undivided Koraput, Balangir and Kalahandi (KBK) districts will also be covered under the scheme. Nearly 58 lakh families will be benefited by the programme.

Congress MP from Nabarangpur Pradeep Majhi said: “Naveen Patnaik has launched the Re 1-per-kg-rice scheme keeping an eye on the election. It is just nothing but a votebank politics. They have done nothing in the past few years for the poor.”

Stating that his government was intent on bringing the administration closer to the people, Naveen said the Odisha government had decided to reorganise all the blocks and tehsils in Malkangir district. “The reorganised blocks and tehsils would start functioning from April 1,” he said.

The chief minister also said the Odisha government would continue to oppose the Polavaram irrigation project.

During his one-day whirlwind visit to the district, the chief minister also inaugurated the child health care centre at the district headquarters hospital and a digital X-Ray machine. Besides, he also declared open a water treatment plant and electrification work under the Biju Saharanchal Vidyutkaran Yojana.