Himachal rolls out food subsidy scheme

Shimla, Sep 20 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh Friday launched the central government's scheme that will enable over 37 lakh people to get subsidised food grain.

After handing over ration bags to 104-year-old Mast Ram and 70-year-old Vidya Devi, Virbhadra Singh said beneficiaries would get three kg of wheat at Rs.2 per kg and two kg of rice at Rs.3 per kg per month under the Rajiv Gandhi Ann Yojna (food grain scheme).

The hill state became the fifth Congress-ruled state to start the central government's flagship social welfare scheme that entitles 67 percent of the population to monthly subsidised food grain.

The chief minister said Antyodaya (uplift of the lowest man) families would continue to get 20 kg of wheat and 15 kg of rice per month as per past practice.

"All the families identified under Antyodaya Ann Yojna in gram sabha meetings held April 7 would be brought under the ambit of Rajiv Gandhi Ann Yojna," he said.

Besides, the chief minister said all families being covered under the below poverty line (BPL), social security pensioners and Annapurna Ann Yojna projects too would be covered under it.

He said providing ration at subsidised rates to all sections of society has always remained the priority of his government. The food subsidy scheme was launched during his earlier tenure in 2007, under which every ration card holder was provided three pulses, two edible oils and iodised salt.

Virbhadra Singh said the state was bearing all financial expenses of subsidised food from its own resources. The state has made a budgetary provision of Rs.175 crore for this scheme this financial year.

State Food and Civil Supplies Minister G.S. Bali said over 70 percent beneficiaries have been identified under the Rajiv Gandhi Ann Yojna while rest would be covered soon.

There are 1,699,225 ration card holders in the state for a population of 6,864,602, said an official of the food and civil supplies department.

The ration card holders include 11.63 lakh people who are above the poverty line.

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