Kerala govt may limit free food kits during Onam

 Balagopal had recently said that a portion of the dues will be given to Supplyco before the Onam season.
K N Balagopal. (Photo | Express)
K N Balagopal. (Photo | Express)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The government may limit free food kits during the Onam festival season to ration card holders in the priority categories. Finance Minister K N Balagopal said the government is yet to take a decision. He hinted that the universal distribution of food kits in the past few years was in the wake of the pandemic. Last year, the government spent Rs 500 crore for distributing kits to 90 plus lakh ration card holders.

This year, a proposal before the government is to limit kits to cardholders in the high-priority category- the Antyodaya Anna Yojana. The civil supplies department has reported to the government that around Rs 30 crore will be required for this. If the next priority category, those in the Priority Household category are also included, the expense will be Rs 200 crore. It is learnt that a final decision will be taken by the Cabinet.

Meanwhile, the market intervention by Supplyco is facing a crisis owing to the delay in payment from the state government. The government owes a whopping Rs 3,182 crore to the corporation for the various measures taken since 2019, ranging from kit distribution to paddy procurement.

Of this, Rs 1,462 crore was spent on the subsidised distribution of 13 essential commodities through Supplyco outlets. It was a poll promise of the Pinarayi Vijayan government. An amount of Rs 30 crore was for the distribution of free food kits to fishermen and migrant labourers. The arrears on paddy procurement is about Rs 1,000 crore. Balagopal had recently said that a portion of the dues will be given to Supplyco before the Onam season. 

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