New Delhi/Bangalore: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah Thursday called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and sought additional quantity of rice from the central government to implement the subsidised rice scheme for the poor.
“It was a courtesy call, as Siddaramaiah is in the capital on his maiden visit after assuming office May 13. He discussed governance issues and sought the prime minister’s advice in administering the state,” an official in the chief minister’s office told IANS in Bangalore.
Siddaramaiah, who is in New Delhi since Wednesday to meet the Congress high command and finalise names of his ministers, urged union Food and Distribution Minister K.V Thomas to release an additional 1.83 lakh tonnes of rice per month for distributing 30kg rice per month at Re.1 per kg to 87 lakh people coming in the below poverty line (BPL) category.
“The official in Bangalore said that the state government would require a total of 3.31 lakh tonnes of rice per month for distribution through the public distribution scheme (PDS), over the 1.48 lakh tonnes the Food Corporation of India (FCI) allots to the state every month.
Giving a break-up of the subsidised scheme for distribution to Thomas, the chief minister said as Karnataka was a decentralised procurement state, it would not be possible for the state to procure the additional quantity of rice on its own due to non-availability of the foodgrain in the state.
“Without the support of the Government of India, it would not be possible for the state government to implement the popular scheme,” Siddaramaiah told Thomas.
The susbidised rice scheme was one of the promises the ruling party made in its election manifesto ahead of the state legislative assembly poll May 5.
Currently, the state food and civil supplies department distributes 32,913 tonnes of rice under the Antodaya Anna Yojana at Rs.3 per kg, 57,616 tonnes under the BPL category at Rs.5.65 per kg, and 57,663 tonnes under the APL (above poverty line) category at Rs.8.30 per kg.
Siddaramaiah also called on Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, and Small Enterprises and Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar.
He will return to Bangalore Friday after meeting party president Sonia Gandhi again and securing her approval to constitute the cabinet by Saturday.