The Telangana government, which has cut down the number of commodities supplied through the Public Distribution System (PDS) to just rice, is reportedly under pressure to restore them to the previous normal.
The State government, however, is in no mood to budge from the existing supplies, owing to the additional expenditure it would lay on the exchequer, sources say. The standard supplies through PDS earlier included essential commodities such as sugar, oil, red gram, tamarind and kerosene, apart from rice.
During the previous Congress regime under N. Kiran Kumar Reddy in the unified State, the bag of rations was raised to include nine commodities, though a few among them were offered at market price. Even after Telangana was formed as separate State, the commodities offered through the PDS at subsidised prices included rice, sugar, kerosene and pulses for about a year. The government’s decision to raise the monthly ration of rice to 6 kg per person, and do away with the limit of 20 kg per family, eventually resulted in cutdown on other commodities. With the Central government doing away with levy of rice through Food Corporation of India, and also scrapping the subsidy on sugar, things have worsened for the beneficiaries. For the last three to four months, sugar has been stopped, and kerosene is issued only occasionally.
At 2.74 crore, the State has 85 lakh beneficiaries more than specified under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), for whom the government is bearing the burden of additional rice subsidy to the tune of Rs. 1,700 crore. Further, while the Central government is allowing subsidy on only 5 kg of rice per person, the State government has been bearing the cost of the extra kilogram, which amounts to Rs. 400 crore. Bogged down by the cost, the State government is reluctant to restore the supply of commodities other than rice, an official source said on condition of anonymity. There has been tremendous pressure on the government to restore the commodities, but Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao is reportedly not willing to budge. The Civil Supplies Dept. too is facing wrath of the public for shedding its ‘responsibility’.
Suggestions have been reportedly made by various sections for cutback in the quantity of rice supplied, to accommodate other commodities without additional cost, but Mr. Rao is apparently in no mood to dump his pet scheme.
Only rice shop
At 2.74 crore, Telangana has 85 lakh beneficiaries more than specified under the National Food Security Act
PDS supplies earlier included essential commodities such as sugar, oil, red gram, tamarind and kerosene, apart from rice