Read full article by Sandeep Modugal@TOI Photo Credit: Times of India
BENGALURU: Seven years after the launch of Anna Bhagya (free rice) scheme, the Karnataka government is all set to replace rice with ragi (finger millet) and jowar (sorghum).
Come September, the food and civil supplies department will start distributing 5kg of ragi in 16 districts of south Karnataka and 5kg of jowar in 14 districts of north Karnataka through the public distribution system, along with 5kg of rice under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY).
Earlier, the government had planned to cut down rice distribution from 5kg to 3kg and save an estimated Rs 800 crore. But now it has decided to completely do away with rice under the state scheme.
Anna Bhagya scheme was launched by then chief minister Siddaramaiah in 2013 by supplying 10kg of rice to each family. Later, it increased to 5kg per unit (family member). However, under the coalition government in 2018-19, the scheme saw a reduction in the quantity to 7kg per family. Later when BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government came to power, the rice was restricted to 5kg.While the Congress has termed the move anti-poor, the government said it aims to add more nutritional value to the diet of the poor, check pilferage and promote cultivation of millets.
Food and civil supplies minister K Gopalaiah said ragi and jowar have been the staple diet of the poor in the state and they are only helping their cause. The government has already got a green signal from the Centre.
He said BPL and Antyodaya ration card holders will continue to get their share of 5kg rice under PMGKY from the Centre and millets from the state. “With 5kg of rice, an additional 5kg of ragi/jowar and 2kg of wheat will be supplied by the state government. This will ensure a wholesome and nutritious diet for the families,” he said.