Cong to launch FIR campaign against Odisha govt on rice issue

Bhubaneswar: The opposition Congress today decided to launch an "FIR campaign" against the Odisha government, accusing it of diverting 10 kg of rice meant for supply under the public distribution system (PDS).
"We will file FIRs in all the police stations across the state from July 11 opposing distribution of 25 kg of rice among below poverty line (BPL) families instead of 35 kg," said Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Jaydev Jena.
He alleged that the party was forced to go to police stations as the state government has refused to go by the central guidelines on distribution of PDS rice among BPL families. "Though the Centre allocates 35 kg per BPL family per month, the state distributes only 25 kg per month," the OPCC president said.
The Congress leader also said the party would collect signature of BPL families during the campaign and subsequently file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Orissa High Court in this matter.
"You cannot cut 10 kg of rice of each poor family every month," he said.
The opposition party said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has ignored the central guideline.
"The FIRs will be filed against the Chief Minister and Odisha's Food and Supplies Minister," Jena said.
The state government has rejected the charge and claimed that it was distributing 25 kg of rice to each BPL family every month because of less supply by the Centre for distribution among poor families.
Finance Minister Prasanna Acharya said, "We distribute 25 kg of rice to BPL families in order to cover the poor people left out in the BPL list. Above all, the government is not eating away the rice as alleged by Congress."
Defending its actions, the state government maintained that the Centre allocated only 97,131 metric tonnes of subsidised rice every month for distribution among 27.76 lakh BPL families only.
But the state has to distribute it among 42.32 lakh families. "That's why we have decided to distribute 25 kg of rice instead of 35 kg to each family," an official at the food and supplies department said, adding that if the BPL rice had to be distributed at 35 kg per family the state would require an additional 50,989 metric tonnes of rice.
The allocation of 97,131 metric tonnes of rice received from the Centre is not even adequate to meet the requirement of 42.32 lakh families even at 25 kg per family every month.
An additional quantity of 8669.275 metric tonnes of rice per month is met from the state pool, the official said.
Apart from the BPL scheme, the Centre has been allocating subsidised rice for 7.42 lakh above poverty line (APL) families of eight KBK districts since 2002 and they are now getting 35 kg of rice.
Though there had been no survey of BPL families since 1997, a study conducted by the state government estimated that the total number of BPL families in the state to be 48.58 lakh.