BHUBANESWAR: Even as the State Government has launched several schemes during the last two months despite cut in allocations, it has decided to discontinue the emergency feeding programme in eight KBK districts after the Centre stopped provision of subsidised rice.
The programme covered over two lakh poor beneficiaries in Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Rayagada, Subarnapur, Balangir, Kalahandi and Nuapada districts.
The decision to provide one cooked meal to old, infirm and indigent persons in KBK districts under the scheme was taken in 1995-96 to provide food security to one of the most backward regions of the country. The cooked meal was being provided to beneficiaries through anganwadi centres.
The scheme was being funded by the Planning Commission under the special plan for KBK districts. In a letter to Collectors of eight districts, Secretary in the Women and Child Development Department Saswat Mishra said since the Centre has stopped allocation of subsidised rice for the programme, the State Government has decided to discontinue the scheme from 2015-16. Beneficiaries of the emergency feeding programme should now be covered under appropriate social and food security schemes, if not covered already, as per their eligibility, he said.
The Centre bore around `75 crore which included the cost of 18,000 tonnes of rice for running this programme. The decision of the State Government has come in for criticism from all quarters as several other schemes are being run from its own resources. These include rice at `1 per kg and meal at `5 to poor people in four urban centres of the State.
The discontinuation of the programme will no doubt pose serious threat to the life and livelihood of poor people of KBK region. Even though these people will be covered under National Food Security Act (each eligible person is entitled to get only five kg rice per month), it will not be sufficient to keep them free from hunger. Provision of `300 pension per month to these families under various pension schemes will also not be adequate.
The Centre has also slashed funds under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) which will have an adverse impact on Odisha where IMR is still high at 42 per 1,000 births.