GoI Asks JK To Stop Subsidised Ration To Over 40 Lakh People

31 July 2015
Rising Kashmir
Ishfaq Naseem

Srinagar: Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution has asked the state government to stop the supply of subsidized ration to over 40-lakh people taking an exception that 'even well-off families are getting the subsidy.' In a recent letter written by a senior official in the Union Consumer Affairs Ministry, the Central government has taken a strong note that the Jammu and Kashmir was among the only few states in India where the National Food Safety Act (NFSA) has not been implemented. The Act provides to limit the subsidy to the economically lower sections of population. The Central government has informed the state that while rice and wheat will be provided to 74 lakh people at the rate of Rs 3 and Rs 2 per kg, over 40 lakh people have to be excluded from getting the subsidised ration. Out of the 74 lakh, major numbers of beneficiaries are from rural areas. Nearly 63 percent of the population has to be from rural areas, while 47 percent beneficiaries will be from the urban areas of state. Central government has taken a strong note that families which own sizeable land chunks and have movable and immovable assets couldn't be extended the government subsidies. 'The state can't justify offering the subsidies to the families,' said a senior government official. After receiving the letter, the state government recently constituted a committee headed by Financial Commissioner, Planning, to look into the issue. The panel has also the Secretaries of the departments of revenue and law as the members and the Secretary Food and Supplies as the member secretary. The committee has been asked to submit its report in 15-days time so that the government can take a decision over granting the subsidies to people. Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Choudhary Zulfikar Ali, said that after the committee headed by Financial Commissioner Planning submits its report, the government will be able to take a final decision over the matter. 'The issue will be discussed in the cabinet before a final decision is taken over the matter,' he said adding that there are some states which are providing free ration to the families. 'State's like Tamil Nadu are providing free ration to the families. We will ensure a mechanism so that the people are not affected,' he added. Zulfikar said the government is assessing the legal framework that could be adopted so that people continue to get the ration at the existing rates.