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Anna Bhagya Scheme: K’taka Govt Engages in Negotiations with Central Agencies for Rice, Confirms CM Siddaramaiah

Muniyappa assured that Karnataka would fulfill its promise of providing 10 kilograms of rice under the Anna Bhagya scheme, regardless of the challenges they are currently facing.

Shivam Dwivedi
Anna Bhagya Scheme: K’taka Govt Engages in Negotiations with Central Agencies for Rice, Confirms CM Siddaramaiah (Photo Source: Pixabay)
Anna Bhagya Scheme: K’taka Govt Engages in Negotiations with Central Agencies for Rice, Confirms CM Siddaramaiah (Photo Source: Pixabay)

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has announced that the state government has invited quotations from three central agencies to supply rice for the Anna Bhagya scheme. This scheme aims to offer an additional five kilograms of rice to families living below the poverty line.

The Chief Minister expressed disappointment over the Centre's refusal to provide rice for the scheme, which was supposed to be implemented immediately after the Congress party came to power in Karnataka.

Siddaramaiah informed reporters that the state government has requested quotations from the National Consumers' Cooperative Federation (NCCF), Kendriya Bhandar, and National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED). Negotiations regarding prices are currently underway with these agencies. The Chief Minister explained that after the negotiations, the quantity, quality, and price of the rice will be determined. When asked about purchasing rice from the open market, Siddaramaiah stated that the process of floating tenders takes time.

In response to potential substitutes, Siddaramaiah mentioned that the state has a stock of Ragi and maize for six months, which can provide a maximum of two kilograms each. However, three kilograms of rice are still required, posing a challenge for the implementation of the scheme throughout the year. The Chief Minister criticized the Centre for refusing to provide rice to the state government, despite having an adequate stock.

He accused the Centre of being anti-poor and undermining a program designed to support economically weaker sections of society. Siddaramaiah highlighted that the Centre has sufficient rice stocks, which are being auctioned or given to private entities, while states are denied access. He emphasized that Karnataka is willing to pay for the rice and questioned the purpose behind denying them this essential resource. The Chief Minister urged the people of the state to judge whether the Centre's actions are pro-poor or anti-poor.

Regarding the recent decision by former Chief Minister Yediyurappa to stage a demonstration, Siddaramaiah acknowledged his freedom to protest but questioned his moral standing. He stated that the Anna Bhagya scheme, one of the five guarantees promised by the government, was scheduled to begin on July 1. However, due to insufficient rice stock, the implementation may be delayed.

Siddaramaiah revealed that the state government had reached out to Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh governments, but none had the required quantity of rice available. Furthermore, the rates offered were high. Karnataka requires an additional 2.29 lakh metric tonnes of rice, which is not obtainable from any state. Telangana agreed to provide paddy instead of rice, while Chhattisgarh offered 1.5 lakh metric tonnes for only one month, leaving uncertainty regarding the subsequent months.

When questioned about the state government's preparedness to deal with scanty rainfall, Siddaramaiah assured that they were well-equipped to face challenges. He stated that they were praying for rain and had initiated sowing in certain areas. The Chief Minister held meetings with deputy commissioners to ensure there would be no water shortage in districts. The agriculture department is prepared with seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides for the upcoming sowing season.

Siddaramaiah expressed his frustration with Union Food and Civil Supplies Minister Piyush Goyal, who reportedly denied providing rice to the state. The Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies Minister, K H Muniyappa, stated that he informed Goyal about the state's readiness to pay the designated rate for rice supply. However, Goyal mentioned that the Centre required at least 100 lakh tonnes of rice for other schemes.

Muniyappa argued that the denial of rice to Karnataka was politically motivated and criticized the Centre for having an abundant stock of rice while refusing to supply it. He highlighted that the Food Security Act introduced by the Congress-led UPA in 2013 is intended to support the poor population.

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