Food Ministry mulls increasing pulses subsidy to Rs 20/kg
New Delhi: The Food and Consumer Affairs Ministry is planning to provide pulses through ration shops to families below poverty line (BPL) and has proposed to double subsidy at Rs 20/kg for insulating the poor from high prices.
The proposal would soon be placed before the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
"We are planning to provide pulses through the Public Distribution System (PDS) shops to BPL families with an increased subsidy," Food Minister K V Thomas told reporters.
When asked about the amount of subsidy that the Food Ministry intends to provide, the minister said, "We have proposed to increase the subsidy amount to Rs 20 per kg from Rs 10 per kg earlier."
The Food Ministry is discussing with the ministries of agriculture and finance to relaunch the distribution of imported pulses through PDS shops, he added.
The government had started this scheme in November 2008 to provide pulses at Rs 10 per kg subsidy through PDS to Above Poverty Line (APL) and BPL families.
Thomas said this scheme was stopped last year as the offtake by the states was poor. However, considering the rising prices of the proteinaceous food item and its declining acreage, the Centre is mulling over restarting the scheme.
Earlier this week, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had also expressed concern over rising prices of pulses and vegetables.
"While the prices of wheat and rice are stable, the prices of sugar, pulses and vegetable are showing an upward trend," it had said.
A proposal for increase in subsidy for supply of pulses through PDS to BPL families is being brought before Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, the PMO had added in the statement.
Last week, Thomas had said that in order to control prices, his ministry is preparing a paper on the subsidised pulses scheme through ration shops for the consideration of the Cabinet.
Monsoon rains have been deficient by about 22 percent so far this year affecting sowing of paddy, pulses, coarse cereals and oilseeds.
As of July 21, pulses area declined by 32 percent to 4.01 million hectares from 5.85 million hectares.
Pulses production fell to 17.21 million tonnes in 2011-12 crop year (July-June) from record 18.24 million tonnes in the previous year.
India, the world's largest pulses producer and consumer, imported 2.8 million tonnes of the commodity in 2011-12 fiscal as against 2.69 million tonnes in 2010-11. The domestic demand is pegged at around 18.84 million tonnes.