Bangalore: After rice to poor, anganawadi kids, students to get milk
From Our Special Correspondent
Daijiworld Media Network - Bangalore
Bangalore, Jul 10: Karnataka will incur an annual financial burden of Rs 4300 cr for the Congress Government’s ambitious initiative of supplying 30 kgs of rice to the poorer sections at Re 1 per kg covering nearly a crore poor families across the state as Chief Minister Siddaramaiah formally launched the ''Anna Bhagya’’ scheme in Bangalore on Wednesday.
The “Anna Bhagya” scheme was unveiled by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah here while in-charge ministers did so in district headquarters, in what the Opposition parties have dubbed as the Congress regime’s plans to improve its prospects in 2014 Lok Sabha polls at the cost of the State Exchequer.
The Chief Minister launched the scheme at a public function organized by the State Food and Civil Supplies Department at Freedom Park, near Vidhana Soudha, by weighing 30 kgs of rice in a bio-metric weighing machine.
The scheme, which the ruling Congress party had promised in its manifesto ahead of May 5 Assembly elections to benefit the below poverty line (BPL) families, was originally planned to be implemented from June 1, but postponed due to problems relating to supply.
In view of the huge cost involved, the scheme has come under criticism from some quarters, including Opposition BJP, which has dubbed the programme a “hasty decision” without doing homework merely with a view to woo the electorate.
The Chief Minister, who responded to the opposition criticism in his address at the launch function, said to implement any pro-poor scheme it is necessary that the government shows urgency.
“Can the government delay pro-people schemes, especially when large sections of the poor were unable to have three square meals a day and most of rural children were suffering from malnutrition?,” he asked.
Siddaramaiah also refuted the Opposition’s claims that the scheme is being implemented in a haste in view of the Lok Sabha polls.
“We haven’t taken this decision in view of Lok Sabha polls but in view of Congress tradition of helping the needy,” he said and declared that the party was not apologetic about its zeal and commitment to serve the poor.
The chief minister also said instead of pondering over the huge sum of money to be spent on implementation of the scheme, it is important to give food to the poor, who struggle even to get two meals in a day.
“The government is there for giving justice to the deprived and the hungry,” he said.
On criticism that the beneficiaries would become lazy, he said “If that is so, have people of Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh become lazy. Their states also have introduced similar schemes. These are baseless and politically motivated statements.”
As many as 87 lakh BPL cardholders and 11 lakh “Anthyodaya Anna Yojane” beneficiaries are covered under the scheme, under which single member cardholders would get 10 kgs of rice per month, two-member families would get 20 kgs and those with three and more members would get a maximum of 30 kgs.
To meet the huge demand, Karnataka plans to buy rice from Chhattisgarh, India’s “rice bowl”, at Rs 23.30, including the cost of transport.
State’s Food and Civil Supplies Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao, former union minister and MLC M V Rajashekaran and former minister Roshan Baig, Shivajinagar MLA, were among the dignitaries who attended the function apart from several other Congress legislators.
After Rice to Poor, Anganawadi Kids, Students to Get Milk
Having taken care to fill the stomachs of the poorest of the poor by supplying 30 kgs of rice at Re 1 per kg under the Anna Bhagya scheme, which was launched in Bangalore and all districts on Wednesday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has now announced that the government would also supply 150 ml of milk to all anganawadi kids and students studying in the government and aided schools from Standard I to X.
The decision has been taken in view of the increased milk procurement by the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), the chief minister said at the launch of the Anna Bhagya scheme.
However, the milk would be supplied on three days in a week.
Students studying in all rural government and aided schools upto Standard X in rural areas are presently being supplied mid-day meal.
KMF’s milk procurement has increased from 40 lakh litres to 55 lakh litres a day.
Increase in incentive for milk producers from Rs 2 to Rs 4 a litre was a major reason for increased milk production and supply.
Noting that milk would be supplied to lakhs of anganawadi kids and schoolchildren in the morning, Siddaramaiah said it would help in increasing school attendance and learning skills of children.
The supply of milk would also address the problems of child malnutrition in districts such as Raichur, Koppal, Gulbarga and Yadgir, he said.
The Chief Minister is expected to announce more details of the milk programme in the State budget to be presented on Friday.