Published On:24 April 2013
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Madhya Pradesh govt. to give wheat/Re. 1 per kg & rice/Rs.2 per kg to poor from June

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: With an eye on impending elections of the state legislative assembly at the end of this year the rightist Bharatiya Janata Party, (BJP), ruled Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced to provide wheat at Re. 1 kg and rice Rs.2 per kg from fair price shops in the state from June 2013 to poor families. Iodized salt will also be provided to BPL (Below Poverty Line) and “Antyodaya” (poorest of the poor) families at the rate of Re. 1 per kg in all development blocks.

The Chief Minister made the announcement while addressing village development convention at Gandhwani in Dhar district of the state on Saturday. He said that in order to ensure that benefits of development reach poor common people, the State Government has decided to provide wheat at the rate of Re. 1 per kg and rice Rs.2 per kg to poor people instead of earlier Rs.3 kg and Rs.4.50 per kg, respectively. Now, a poor person will be able to buy one month’s food grains from one day’s wages.

It may be noted that Madhya Pradesh will be the first state after Chhattisgarh to provide food grains at such special concessional rates. Half of Madhya Pradesh’s population i.e. 35 millions people will benefit from these special rates. These include 0.8 million Antyodaya and 5.6 million BPL families.

This important and public-oriented decision will put a burden of Rs.3600 millions (66.67 millions USD) additional subsidy on the state exchequer. At present, 35 kg food grains are being provided to "Antyodaya" and 20 kg to BPL families per family per month under Mukhyamantri Annapurna Yojana. The State Government is already bearing burden of Rs.4400 (81.48 million USD) subsidy on this.

The decision by the State Government to provide food grains at special concessional rates to BPL and Antyodaya families is one step ahead of proposed Food Security Bill of the Union Government. Under the Bill, it is proposed to provide wheat at the rate of Rs.2 kg and rice Rs.3 per kg.

It is also noteworthy that Madhya Pradesh is receiving food grains from the Union Government for BPL families including wheat at the rate of Rs.5 kg and rice Rs.6.50 per kg. The State Government is already bearing expenses on transporting food grains for providing them to beneficiary families and commission of cooperative and lead societies.

In another important decision, the State Government also decided to provide iodized salt to BPL and "Antyodaya" families at the rate of Re. 1 in all 313 development blocks of the state with effect from June 2013. At present, this facility is being provided in only 89 tribal-dominated development blocks in the state.

The aim of the decision is that iodized salt becomes available not only to tribal families, but all BPL and "Antyodaya" families at reduced rates for health and nutrition.

This important decision will put additional burden of Rs.400 million (7.41 million USD) per annum on the State Government, which was Rs.250 million (4.63 million USD) only earlier. Thus, the decision to provide iodized salt at special concessional rate of Re. 1 per kg to all BPL and "Antyodaya" families in the state will put a total burden of Rs.650 million (12.04 million USD) per annum on the state exchequer.

Meanwhile, main Opposition Congress party in the state legislative assembly has said the chief minister's announcement of providing wheat at Re 1 per kg and rice at Rs.2/kg is an attempt to hijack the Federal Government's scheme of subsidized food programme to be implemented under the Food Security Act. The programme is going to be implemented in the country by the Congress-led UPA government, according to a statement from the Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly Ajay Singh issued on Saturday.

"However, this is style of the chief minister to take the credit of centre's scheme and he has done it again," Singh said.

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

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