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K’taka Govt Offers Cash in Place of 5 kg Extra Rice for BPL Families Amid Grain Shortage

The shift to cash payments instead of rice under the 'Anna Bhagya' scheme aims to ensure that beneficiaries continue to receive the benefits promised by the government, despite the challenges faced in rice procurement.

Shivam Dwivedi
K’taka Govt Offers Cash in Place of 5 kg Extra Rice for BPL Families Amid Grain Shortage (Photo Source: Pixabay)
K’taka Govt Offers Cash in Place of 5 kg Extra Rice for BPL Families Amid Grain Shortage (Photo Source: Pixabay)

The Karnataka government has announced its decision to provide cash payments to beneficiaries instead of rice under the 'Anna Bhagya' scheme. The move comes as the government faces difficulties in procuring the required quantities of rice to fulfill its election promise.

According to the Congress' election manifesto, the party had pledged to provide an additional 5 kg of rice per month, in addition to the 5 kg provided by the central government, free of cost. The disbursement of cash payments will begin from July 1, as stated by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah after a Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday. To procure rice, the government plans to initiate an open market tender process, which will commence on Thursday. However, Food and Civil Supplies Minister K H Muniyappa highlighted the challenges faced in obtaining the necessary amount of rice from various institutions.

Since the launch of the 'Anna Bhagya' scheme is imminent and in line with their commitment, the government has decided to provide cash payments at the rate of Rs 34 per kilogram, equivalent to the standard rate set by the Food Corporation of India (FCI). Under this arrangement, beneficiaries holding below poverty line (BPL) ration cards will receive Rs 170 per month for the additional 5 kg of rice. For households with multiple members, the amount will be adjusted accordingly, with two-person households receiving Rs 340 and five-person households receiving Rs 850 per month.

The government has taken steps to directly deposit the cash payments into the beneficiaries' accounts. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah emphasized the significance of this measure, as it was one of the key guarantees promised by their party. He stated that the decision was made during the first cabinet meeting held after assuming power.

The Karnataka government has accused the central government of non-cooperation, alleging that they did not provide the required assistance in supplying the additional 5 kg of rice under the 'Anna Bhagya' scheme. Siddaramaiah criticized the central government for denying rice to Karnataka despite having an ample stock to address hunger-related issues.

Efforts were made to procure rice from the FCI, but the agency initially agreed to sell 2.28 lakh metric tonnes of rice per month at Rs 34 per kg on June 12. However, it subsequently backtracked, citing various exigencies on June 14. The government's offer to pay for the rice was allegedly turned down, raising concerns about the intentions and treatment of the poor.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah criticized the FCI's decision to auction rice to private individuals while excluding states from participating in the auction. He viewed this as an attempt to hinder the state's program and deprive the poor of their rightful entitlements.

The Karnataka government approached three central government agencies—National Cooperative Consumers' Federation of India Limited, National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation, and Kendriya Bhandar—but they quoted a higher price for the rice supply.

Siddaramaiah also took a swipe at BJP leaders in Karnataka, stating that former Chief Ministers B S Yediyurappa and Basavaraj Bommai should have advocated for the release of rice from the central government. He called for a cessation of politics driven by animosity and urged the BJP leaders to facilitate the smooth implementation of the 'Anna Bhagya' scheme.

In light of the central government's refusal to provide rice, the Karnataka government has decided to pursue an open market tender. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has instructed the initiation of the process promptly.

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