In a move benefiting 92 lakh orange ration card holders (above povery line category) in Maharashtra, the state government has decided to provide them with wheat and rice at subsidised rates.
State Food and Civil Supplies minister Girish Bapat made the announcement here today.
With this decision, people under the APL category will get wheat and rice at Rs two and Rs three per kg respectively, he said.
Around 58 lakh farmers are at present availing this benefit and the decision to include the orange ration card holders would take the number of beneficiaries to 1.50 crore, Bapat said.
"The 58 lakh farmers, mostly from the scarcity-hit areas, were included in the scheme in 2012, when the state was facing acute shortage of water and the production of foodgrain had dropped," he said.
Though the number of beneficiaries has increased, the state would not face any financial burden because the money saved from schemes like 'Give It Up' and curbs on black-marketing of kerosene, will be used for subsidising wheat and rice, the minister said.
Mahesh Pathak, principal secretary of the department said a Government Resolution (GR) would soon be issued to this effect.
When asked about what steps the government was taking to keep a check on the soaring prices of pulses, Bapat said, "We are expecting all clearances from the Centre for 700 tonnes chana dal (gram) required in the state. The Union Government has asked the state to keep the price of it less than Rs 78 per kg.
"Once the state gets nod from the Centre, we will release the pulses in the market. The pigeon pea would be sold at Rs 95 per kilogram from the fair price shops. The government is also bidding for pigeon pea from the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange, which could be available for Rs 105 per kilogram," he said.
Bapat refused the charges of state Congress chief Ashok Chavan that the Centre has rejected the state's proposed Act to control the prices of pulses.
"The Union government has some queries in our proposed draft, to which we have decided to respond soon. The only query the state government is not going to accept is the formation of separate tribunal for persons booked under the Act," he said.
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