Andhra’s rice scheme to benefit 75 mn people

November 1st, 2011 - 6:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Telangana Hyderabad, Nov 1 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy Tuesday launched Re.1 a kg rice scheme, which will benefit 75 million people out of the state’s 84 million population.

According to the state’s civil supplies department, 22.6 million below poverty line (BPL) families would get rice at a token one rupee a kg instead of the present Rs.2.

In a state where the total number of poor is estimated to be more than the state’s population due to a very large number of bogus ration cards, the scheme is seen as another populist measure by the chief minister.

The chief minister launched the scheme in Khairatabad locality of the state capital on the 56th formation day of the state, saying it was aimed at providing food security to the poor.

Andhra Pradesh has joined Tamil Nadu and Kerala in implementing this scheme for the poor.

Civil Supplies Minister D.Sridhar Babu said under the scheme each family would get 20 kg rice every month.

The BPL families would be supplied 330,000 tonnes of subsidised rice through the public distribution system every month.

The state would provide annual subsidy of Rs.26 billion for the scheme. This includes Rs.20 billion being provided for the existing Rs.2 a kg rice scheme.

The officials confirmed to IANS that the scheme would benefit 75 million people.

However, if a BPL family comprises an average of four people, the number of poor from 22.6 million BPL families works out to over 90 million, more than the number of the state’s actual population estimated at 84.7 million according to 2011 Census.

According to the official statistics, the state has 20 million white or BPL ration cards, issued to families with an annual income not exceeding Rs.75,000 in urban and Rs.60,000 in rural areas.

The chief minister promised another 3.1 million ration cards during `Racchabanda’. While 600,000 cards were promised during the first phase of the mass contact programme, another 2.5 million cards will be issued during the second phase beginning Nov 2.

While admitting the fact of a large number of bogus ration cards, the officials of civil supplies department hope that they would be eliminated once Aadhaar cards are issued to all families.

The state plans to make Aadhaar compulsory for availing the benefits under all the welfare schemes.

The state has a very large number of ration cards. A few weeks before his death in a helicopter crash in 2009, chief minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy himself had admitted that there were cards in the names of non-existing families while many eligible families do not have them.

Analysts say many bogus white ration cards were secured to avail benefits under other welfare schemes launched by YSR, including old age pension, housing and free healthcare.

During a drive to identify bogus ration cards in 2009, officials were appalled to find a ration card in the name of tennis star Sania Mirza. The card issued in Vizianagaram district had the name of a 20-year-old man as her husband.

Analysts point out that without taking up a drive to eliminate bogus ration cards, Kiran Kumar Reddy announced Re.1 a kg rice scheme.

“Like his predecessors, he too wants to win popularity by launching rice scheme,” a political analyst told IANS.

“By doing this, he is also trying to divert public attention from the problems he faces in Telangana,” de said, declining to be named.

It was Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder N.T. Rama Rao who had introduced Rs.2 a kg rice in Andhra Pradesh after coming to power in 1983. His son-in-law N. Chandrababu Naidu, who dislodged him from power in 1995, discontinued the scheme.

Rajasekhara Reddy re-introduced the scheme in 2008.

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