Ration rice to be hiked by Rs 3 in Telangana

Chief Minister yet to approve the proposal
Hyderabad: The Telangana government is contemplating increasing the price of rice supplied through ration shops for white card holders in the state. The proposal, if approved, can have “severe political implications” on the ruling TRS government.
At present, rice is supplied for just Rs 1 per kg under the Mana Biyyam (Our Rice) scheme that was announced by former chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy in January 2013.
The Telangana government proposes to increase the price to between Rs 3 and Rs 5 per kg. It also proposes to increase the rice quota from 20 kg to 30 kg per household. The Telangana Cabinet sub-committee, headed by finance minister Etela Rajendar, met at the Secretariat on Tuesday to discuss the issue and came up with these proposals.
“These are only proposals that came up for discussion. Nothing has been finalised yet. We will submit a report to the Chief Minister after Dasara. He will take a final decision,” Mr Rajender told reporters after the meeting.
However, it remains to be seen whether Mr Rao approves the price hike or not since the price of PDS rice has always played a crucial role in making or marring the prospects of political parties in elections.
Prior to the Mana Biyyam scheme, the price was Rs 2 per kg, which was launched by YSR in 2004 after the Congress came to power by defeating the Telugu Desam. Rice for Rs 2 per kg had played a major role in the electoral victory of the Congress in 2004.
The then TD government headed by N. Chandrababu Naidu had increased the price from Rs 2 per kg to Rs 3.50 and again to Rs 5.50 per kg in 2000, which had led to widespread criticism from opposition parties and white ration card holders.
The Rs 2 per kg rice scheme was synonymous with the TD ever since NTR made the poll promise when he launched the party in 1982.
At that time, the subsidy per kg (the difference between the issue price of the Food Corporation of India and the actual sale price) was only 30 paise. Later it increased to Rs 7 in 2000 during the Naidu regime. At that time, the subsidy burden on the government was Rs 1,066 crore.
At present, rice for Mana Biyyam scheme is being procured for Rs 25.50 per kg and sold for just Rs 1 per kg. With this, the subsidy burden of the undivided state had increased to Rs 9,600 crore per year. The subsidy share of Telangana is pegged at Rs 4,500 crore per year.
The subsidy burden will come down significantly if the price is increased to between Rs 3 to Rs 5 as proposed by the Cabinet sub committee.
At present there are 91.94 lakh white card holders in Telangana, while the total households as per 2011 Census was 84.20 lakh. Officials expect that nearly 20 lakh cards are bogus and need to be eliminated based on the Intensive Household Survey conducted on August 19.
( Source : dc correspondent )
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