Kerala to get more rice, wheat: Pawar

August 2nd, 2008 - 2:52 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) Kerala, hit by a foodgrain shortage after the central government cut its quota, will get a special allocation of 10,000 tonnes rice and 20,000 tonnes wheat ahead of the Onam festival, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has said. In an interview to Malayalam TV channel ‘Jai Hind’, Pawar said the state would get the special allocation at a reasonable rate before the festival, to be celebrated in September.

“I have received requests from my party colleague (Nationalist Congress Party leader) K. Murlidharan, Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy and Congress leaders Ramesh Chennithala and P.C. Chacko that there should be a special allotment for the state during the festival season,” Pawar said in the interview.

“The government of Kerala is not honouring its position, but the people should not suffer during the festival season,” the minister said.

The central government had cut the foodgrain allocation to the state alleging that Kerala had not fulfilled its agreement to deliver 168,000 tonnes of rice to the central pool.

The shortage in rice and wheat has become a major issue in the state, especially with the Onam festival round the corner.

Kerala’s Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government has blamed the central government for the rising prices of rice and wheat in the state.

While Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan termed the centre’s decision to curtail foodgrain allocation as a “cruel joke” on the people of Kerala, his party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan alleged that the move was a “political vendetta” against the Left parties after they withdrew support to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre over the India-US civil nuclear deal.

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