Quantum of rice for non-priority ration cardholders likely to be slashed

Ration Shop | Food Kit

Thiruvananthapuram: The non-subsidised rice quota for non-priority ration cardholders in Kerala is likely to be slashed as the Central Government is unlikely to increase the quantity of the 'tide-over allocation' of the essential food grains to the State.

Tide-over quota refers to the additional supply over and above the regular stock supplied. As per the National Food Security Act, 2013, the tide-over share is determined by "the level of average offtake under erstwhile normal Targeted Public Distribution System during 2010-11 to 2012-13."

Kerala had approached the Centre with the request for increasing the tide-over quota after the number of card-holders in the blue and white categories increased by over 3 lakh during this government’s tenure.

Non-priority consumers are those who possess blue and white ration cards. Yellow and pink cardholders are included in the priority category.

The allocation pattern

Of the total number of 93 lakh ration cardholders in the State, the Centre gives subsidised rice to 41 lakh card owners belonging to the priority category. The quantity of non-subsided tide-over share of rice for the State was fixed years ago, after taking into account the fact that Kerala was not self-reliant in foodgrains and that the State earned foreign exchange for the nation’s exchequer through the export of cash crops.

Ration rice is supplied to blue and white cardholers after pooling the tide-over quota of rice and the stock that remain after supplying it to the priority sections. Besides making rice available to Subiksha and Janakeeya categories of hotels, brown ration cardholders who are members of welfare institutions are given 600 kg of rice per month free of cost.

Since over 96% of those belonging to the priority sector draw eligible ration regularly, often no substantial quantity of rice remains as surplus.

A quantity of 2 kg of rice is given to the blue card owners who belong to the BPL section in Kerala. The State asked for increasing the tide-over share with the aim of increasing this quantity to the section.

The Centre has been allotting 14.25 lakh tonnes of rice every year to Kerala. Of this, 4.8 tonnes is the amount of rice contributed to the Central pool by the State after procuring paddy and milling it into rice.

Ration dealers’ strike today

Ration dealers will conduct a hunger strike on Monday in front of the government Secretariat under the leadership of the Ration Dealers Coordination Committee.

Their charter of demands includes a proper review of the Centre’s decision to cut the tide-over ration quota; revision of the remuneration package; making the supply of ration to all a civic right, and introduction of an insurance scheme for ration dealers.

However, ration shops would function as usual today, said the leaders of the organising committee, Johnny Nellore, G Krishna Prasad, T Mohammad Ali, and Suresh Karett.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Ration Employees’ Federation (AITUC) has said that its members would not take part in the strike.

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