“It is a temporary measure. To keep our word, we have decided to give cash. As and when we get sufficient rice, the cash disbursements will be stopped and rice will be distributed,” CM Siddaramaiah said. He said the government had decided to go for an open-market tender to procure rice, the process for which will start from Thursday. Food and civil supplies minister KH Muniyappa said each member in BPL families will get Rs 170 from July 1. If there are five members in a BPL family, it will receive Rs 850 a month and the money will be deposited in the bank account of the head of the family through direct benefit transfer (DBT), he added.
However, about 14 lakh families which are over and above the limit of PDS card holders set by the Centre will not get the cash benefit as of now. The Centre has set a limit of 70 lakh PDS cards for Karnataka, but the state has provided BPL cards to additional 14 lakh families, taking the total number of BPL cards to 84 lakhs.
The state government is exploring ways to provide free rice to these 14 lakh families. “We need about 22,000 tonnes of rice for them. Procuring this quantity will not be a problem for our government,” state minister HK Patil said. In the run-up to the recent assembly elections, Congress, in its manifesto, had promised to increase the quantity of rice provided monthly under PDS to BPL families from 5 kg to 10 kg. Soon after forming the government, Siddaramaiah announced the scheme would be rolled out from July 1. But, the government’s plan ran into rough weather after FCI refused to sell any additional quantity of rice to Karnataka, following a directive from the Centre.