Centre will examine Jammu and Kashmir’s demand for allocation of extra 4.30 lakh tonnes of foodgrains at lower rates for implementation of a newly launched state programme, Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today said.
The state government had recently launched Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Food Entitlement Scheme under which 5 kg foodgrains are distributed to each ration card holder over and above the current entitlement under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
The issue was discussed in detail during a two-hour long meeting with the state Food Minister Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali and other senior officials here.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Paswan said, “J&K has demanded additional foodgrains of 4.30 lakh tonnes at APL rates (i.e. at Rs 6.10/kg wheat and Rs 8.30/kg rice) for its newly launched food scheme. We will examine their demand. It is a policy issue which we will keep it before the Cabinet.”
Many states are making such demand after rolling out NFSA, but the Centre’s policy has been very clear. “If any state needs extra grains, it can buy through open market sale scheme (OMSS) at Rs 24 per kg rice and Rs 16.40 per kg wheat.”
Under NFSA, the Centre has allocated 7.51 lakh tonnes of grains to J&K to cover 74.13 lakh beneficiaries via the public distribution system (PDS). Foodgrains are sold via PDS at a highly subsidised Rs 1-3 per kg.
Noting that J&K is a consuming state and depends on the Centre for grains to meet its PDS demand, Ali said, “The state was compelled to launch a new food programme as there was unrest. We need 4.30 lakh tonnes of foodgrains to run this programme and this would cost Rs 358 crore to the state.”
So, the state government has demanded allocation of foodgrains for this new programme at APL rates. “Paswan-ji has said it is a policy issue and will be examined in the interest of J&K people,” he said.
The state had to launch a new food programme as the Centre maintained foodgrain allocation at 7.51 lakh tonnes under NFSA even as population rose as per the 2011 census, he added.
Besides, the J&K government asked the Centre to maintain single rate for wheat being sold via OMSS, which Paswan said will be looked into it “seriously”.
The state also demanded that fund allocation for end-to- end computerisation of PDS should be provided in the ratio of 90:10 which is being given to other north-eastern states, instead of the existing 50:50 ratio.
Construction of silos and quality checking labs, among others, were discussed in the meeting.