Hyderabad: The subsidy from both the Centre and state governments for the Rs 1-per-kg rice scheme in Telangana amounts to Rs 6,000 crore a year (Rs 3,820 crore from the Centre and Rs 2,248 crore from the state), but it is estimated that at least Rs 1,000 crore is being drained away by massive corruption at various levels and never reaches the intended beneficiaries.
This is in addition to the diversion of rice to the black market by those who have obtained ration cards by illegal means. There is no estimate of the value of the rice pumped into the black market.
Despite this open loot of the public exchequer, the stunning fact is that so far, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has not ordered a thorough review of the Civil Supplies Department, a major public expenditure department, even once in the last three years.
There is also no auditing of the Civil Supplies Corporation, which has an annual turnover of Rs 12,000 crore and has a deficit Budget of Rs 9,000 crore since 2010.
The Chief Minister has, however, appointed C.V. Anand, a senior IPS officer, to head all civil supplies-related activity. Mr Chandrasekhar Rao has publicly praised him for saving the government exchequer Rs 1,100 crore so far.
The Central government’s Food Security Act was introduced after alarming figures emerged about child malnutrition - 40 per cent of children in India are suffering from malnutrition.
The government procures one kg of rice at approximately Rs 28 from farmers and rice millers and sells it at Rs 1 to the beneficiaries of the scheme, investing a large amount in what is a worthy cause.
However, the inability of governments to check misuse of the scheme by certain sections of beneficiaries, government officials and ration shop dealers has defeated the good intentions, benefited all the wrong people, and wasted taxpayers’ money.