The state cabinet Wednesday decided to continue the benefits of Public Distribution System (PDS) for 1.77 crore people who were to be left out of the Food Security Scheme.
The decision was taken even as the Finance and Planning Department, held by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, expressed reservations, saying the move would mean additional financial burden of Rs 1,100 crore per year.
While there are 8.77 crore PDS beneficiaries in the state, the Centre has, however, sanctioned the Food Security Scheme for 7 crore people in Maharashtra. A cabinet sub-committee was appointed to study the politically sensitive and administratively challenging matter and identify those whose names were to be struck off the list of beneficiaries.
Food and Civil Supplies Minister Anil Deshmukh said the state would bear the additional annual burden of Rs 1,100 crore in continuing the APL benefits for these 1.77 crore beneficiaries.
While Deshmukh claimed that the scheme is likely to be rolled out in the state by the fourth week of this month, sources said the process of identifying the beneficiaries was going to take time and the state would be able to implement the scheme only by January-end.
Of the 8.77 existing beneficiaries, 5.77 crore fall under the APL category, 1 crore under the Antyodaya category and 1.99 crore under the BPL category. Four crore of 5.77 crore APL beneficiaries will be part of the Food Security Scheme.
ďThese 1.77 crore beneficiaries will be identified through self-declaration of income. Families earning more than Rs 59,000 per year in urban areas and Rs 44,000 in rural areas will not be part of the 4 crore APL beneficiaries of the Food Security Scheme,Ē said Deshmukh.