Bhubaneswar: Terming Odisha government`s announcement of Re 1 a kg rice scheme as a "panic reaction" ahead of the Food Security Bill, Opposition Congress today asked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to provide dal, edible old and other essential items to poor families at a subsidised price.
"Chief Minister`s announcement of Rs 1 a kg rice scheme is nothing but a panic reaction before UPA government tables Food Security Bill in Parliament," Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik said.
While reacting to the Chief Minister`s announcement at the Republic Day function at Cuttack, OPCC president said Congress had pledged in its 2009 election manifesto to give rice at the rate of Rs 1 to poor families.
This apart, the Congress leader said poor families will get rice at the rate of Rs 3 per kg and wheat at Rs 2 a kg after passage of the Food Security Bill.
Noting that the announcement of Rs 1 a kg rice before elections was a sign of "panic reaction," he said the state government would save about Rs 500 crore per annum when the Food Security Bill is passed.
The Odisha government was presently spending over Rs 1,100 crore towards subsidy for enabling distribution of rice at the rate of Rs 2 per kg among poor families. "After passing of the Bill, the state could save above Rs 500 crore. Therefore, we demand provision of subsidised pulses and edible.
The opposition also slammed the Naveen Patnaik
government for distributing 25 kg of subsidised rice instead of 35 kg a month among poor families.
Opposition BJP too criticised Naveen`s statement that he aimed to eradicate hunger from the state. "Naveen runs government for the rich and influential people like industrialists. How can he feel pangs of hunger," asked former minister and senior BJP leader B B Harichandan.
Odisha unit of Samajwadi Party, however, termed the Chief Minister`s announcement as a "bold step" towards food security of poor people. "However, the state government must ensure there is no misappropriation of food items being released in name of poor families," Samajwadi Party state president Rabi Behera said.