Bhubabaneswar: Alleging denial of 35 kg monthly quota of rice to poor families under public distribution system (PDS), opposition Congress MLAs on Wednesday walked out of the assembly, but the state government termed the allegation as "politically motivated."
"Though the Centre had been releasing rice at the rate of 35 kg per poor family per month, the state government distributed only 25 kg of rice to a family," pointed out Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh of Congress while participating in a debate on the controversy.
The Congress members alleged that the state government had been denying 10 kg of rice to each beneficiary poor family every month.
"Less supply of rice to poor families has lead to hunger situation in the state where at least 31 people have died of starvation," alleged Congress Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan.
Claiming the Centre has been allocating 35 kg of subsidised rice for 46 lakh poor families in the state, Harichandan said the state government misutilised them and takes credit of providing cheap rice at the rate of Rs 2 a kg.
"We will take the matter to the people in villages who are cheated of 10 kg of rice every month," the Congress Chief Whip said.
Rejecting the opposition allegation, food and supplies minister P K Deb said, "While the Centre gives subsidised rice for only 27.76 lakh families at the rate of 35 kg, the state government distributes them among a total of 42.32 lakh families at the rate of 25 kg per month."
While the Centre allocates subsidised rice for only 22.35 lakh BPL (below poverty line) families and 5.41 lakh APL (above poverty line) in poverty struck eight KBK (Koraput- Bolangir-Kalahandi) districts, the state government provides cheap rice to 36.91 BPL families and 5.41 APL families, the minister pointed out justifying less supply of rice by 10 kg to poor families.
This apart, Deb pointed out that subsidised rice was also being given to 12.64 beneficiaries of Annordoy Anna Yojana and 2.40 lakh non-BPL poor families.
"Where did the state government eat away the cheap rice," the minister asked the opposition terming their allegation as "baseless" and "politically motivated."
Deb also alleged the state government`s request to allot 35 kg of rice for all the BPL and poor families had been denied by the Centre.
"How can one totally deny cheap rice to poor families who have not been recognised in BPL category by the Central government and the Planning Commission," he asked.
The minister said the state government equally distributes rice among all the BPL families.