In Fight For Food, Sharad Seeks PMs Help To Tackle FM

New Delhi, January 21: | Updated: Jan 22 2003, 05:30am hrs
Union food and public distribution minister Sharad Yadav has sought the intervention of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for expanding the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) to cover two crore families. The scheme has been opposed by the finance ministry because it involves an additional cost of Rs 497 crore.

At present the AAY programme covers one crore families and costs the government nearly Rs 900 crore. Sources told FE that the food minister has met the deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and Prime Minister for increasing the coverage of the AAY and will move a Cabinet note shortly for approval.

The AAY programme was launched by Mr Vajpayee on December 25, 2000 and was aimed at the poorest of the poor who do not have the purchasing power to buy foodgrain round the year even at the below poverty line (BPL) rates. Official sources said that the ministry of food and public distribution has linked the scheme with the NDA governments agenda of fighting hunger and is mobilising support from other Cabinet ministers for the scheme.

After expansion of the scheme, approximately 31 per cent of the estimated number of BPL families would be covered, officials stated.

Families identified by the state and the Union territories for coverage under AAY scheme are issued AAY cards. Old people aged 60 years or above without assured means of subsistence, households headed by a disabled adult, households headed by widows, terminally ill persons and families/single women, households under primitive groups who may not have been identified so far are priority groups under the AAY scheme.

The AAY beneficiary is provided foodgrain of 25 kg per family per month at the rate of Rs 2 per kg for wheat and Rs 3 per kg for rice.