Malkangiri: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday launched the Re 1 a kg rice scheme for the poor in Odisha from the backward and tribal-dominated Malkangiri district.
Patnaik, who distributed cheap rice to members of the Bonda tribe, had announced the scheme on Republic Day.
It would provide rice at Re 1 per kg to people living below poverty line (BPL) as well as Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, disabled and beneficiaries of the Antyodaya scheme.
Affirming his government`s resolve to make fruits of development available to the poor, Patnaik said, people living above poverty line in the backward KBK (undivided Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput) districts will also be provided rice at the rate.
The chief minister also asked the administration to be vigilant and cautious in order to prevent any diversion of rice from the scheme.
Aimed at providing benefits to over 58 lakh families, the Re 1 per kg rice is estimated to put an additional financial burden of about Rs 200 crore on the state government, sources said.
The Odisha government has been giving rice at Rs 2 per kg to the poor. The scheme was launched before the 2009 general elections.
Maintaining that the government wanted to take the administration close to the people, Patnaik also said it had been decided to reorganise the development blocks and tehsils of the Maoist-hit Malkangiri district. These will start functioning from April 1.
Meanwhile, the opposition parties termed the BJD government`s cheap rice scheme as a gimmick ahead of the next general elections and alleged it was a panic reaction and a desperate bid by Patnaik to remain in power.
They also slammed the government for distributing only 25 kgs of subsidised rice instead of 35 kgs a month among poor families.
The JMM claimed the cheap rice scheme would turn the poor, particularly hard working tribals, to be lazy and idle.