Karnataka to sell wheat, millets at Re.1 per kg to poor

Bangalore, Aug 26 : The Karnataka government would distribute millets like ragi and jowar and wheat at Re.1 per kg to the poor families across the state from Oct 2 under its flagship scheme 'Anna Bhagya', Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said Monday.

"We have decided to distribute 30 kg of millets per month at Re.1 per kg in place of rice to BPL (below poverty line) families in southern and northern regions of the state where ragi, jowar and wheat are staple food of the people," Siddaramaiah told reporters here.

Giving an account of the Congress' achievements during the 100 days of returning to power after the May 5 state legislative assembly election, he said the subsidised scheme would cost the exchequer Rs.4,200 crore per annum.

"During electioneering to the twin parliamentary bye-polls in Bangalore Rural and Mandya, a BPL family told me that it was able to save Rs.800 per month on food because of the scheme and spend the saved money on its children's education," Siddaramaiah recalled.

As promised in the ruling party's election manifesto, the subsidised scheme of distributing 30kg rice per month at Re.1 per kg to 9.8 million (98 lakh) BPL families was the first executive decision the chief minister took within hours after he took oath May 13.

It is under implementation since July 10 through fair price shops across the state.

"Doubling of milk subsidy to Rs.4 per litre for 7.5 lakh producers and distribution of 150ml of milk thrice a week to 10.4 million children in schools and anganwadis across the state under the 'Ksheera Bhagya' scheme from Aug 1 had also made a good impact on the people as it will address the malnutrition problem," he said.

The milk subsidy will cost the state government Rs.818 crore and the milk scheme to children Rs.384 crore per annum.

"The intention of the government in implementing these schemes is to make Karnataka hunger free and malnutrition free over the next five years," Siddaramaiah said.

Similarly, the state government is providing small and marginal farmers interest-free loans up to Rs.200,000 and at one percent interest for loans between Rs.2-3 lakh. Big farmers can avail of loans of Rs.3-10 lakh at three percent interest per annum.

"We have set up an agriculture price commission with Rs.1,000 crore revolving support price fund for market intervention to ensure farmers do not suffer losses in the event of prices for their crops fall below production cost," Siddaramaiah said.

Under the 'Runa Mukta Bhagya (debt free scheme)', the state government has waived loans of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs) amounting to Rs.349 crore and 66.89 crore respectively benefitting 1.87 lakh SCs and 40,072 STs.

"We have also waived loans worth Rs.876 crore of Backward Classes and minorities under the (debt free) scheme, which has benefitted 4.98 lakh Backward Class people and 3 lakh minorities," Siddaramaiah noted.

Arrears of power bills amounting up to Rs.268 crore were also waived benefitting two million poor people under the Bhagyajyothi scheme.

--IANS (Posted on 26-08-2013)

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