Vikash Sharma

The recent announcement by the Centre to provide free rice to 3.25 crore people in Odisha till December 2023 has triggered a political slugfest in the State.

The decision has not gone down well with the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) which was so far taking the sole credit for providing cheap rice to poor families at the cost of Re 1 per kg. The BJD alleged that the Centre has denied an additional 5 kg of rice to poor families by stopping the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY).

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While 5 kg of rice was given under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), another 5 kg was availed under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY). However, the Centre has now stopped the PMGKAY, alleged the BJD.

Senior BJD leader, Debi Mishra said, “The decision of stopping 5 kg rice to a poor family is not justified. Therefore, we are demanding immediate restoration of the benefits. Our party has decided to stage demonstrations at block and panchayat level on February 15 and 16 so that pressure is put on the Centre.”

BJP general secretary, Prithviraj Harichandan said, “The ruling BJD cannot mislead people anymore as the Centre has decided to provide free rice to 3.25 crore beneficiaries in Odisha under NSFA and the expenses will be entirely borne by Centre.”

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"BJD is unable to digest it as there is now a full stop on its claims that subsidized rice was provided by Odisha Government," said Harichandan adding that BJD should rather focus on resolving the issues and problems concerning the state instead of protesting at block and panchayat level.

(Reported by Harihar Chand)