New Delhi: The Central government has rejected the Kerala government’s request for a supply of free rice for the victims of floods and heavy rainfall, according to a report in Mathrubhumi.
The report also stated that the Centre refused to consider the request to provide rice at Rs 3 per kg under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
Instead, the Centre is willing to supply rice at the minimum support price of Rs 26 per kg. According to the report, the Kerala government is yet to decide whether it will avail this offer.
The government of Kerala had declared that free ration would be provided to victims in flood-hit areas and that 15 kg of free rice would be given to families in affected areas. However, the supply of free ration has reportedly not begun as about 4.68 lakh families are still awaiting food supplies.
The secretary of the state food department, Mini Antony said that the distribution of free ration would commence this month. The secretary also pointed out that the Centre had rejected the state’s request as government policy stipulates that MSP-derived prices would be the rate for the allocation of food grains to states for natural calamities.
In 2018 as well during the Kerala floods, the Central government had refused to supply rice to the state free of cost and had asked the Kerala government to cough up money for the ration at the MSP rates of Rs 25 per kg. The communique from the Central government in 2018 stated that upon failure to make the payment for the ration, the Union government would be obliged to deduct the money from the Centre’s Rs 500-crore flood relief fund.
However, after Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan protested against the move and sent a letter to the prime minister, the Centre agreed to the demand by the state government and decided to waive the payment for the ration.
Opposition parties, including the Congress, have accused the Centre of ‘favouritism’ when it come to disbursing funds for flood relief. They have argued that Kerala has routinely been denied adequate floods, while Uttar Pradesh has was given Rs 200 crore last year as flood-related funds even though the state didn’t witness flooding.