People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 29

July 22, 2012




LF Govt Takes Historic Decision on Food Security


   Rahul Sinha


WHILE the much touted Food Security Bill of the UPA-2 government is still languishing, the Left Front government of Tripura took a historic and bold decision in the this regard on July 12, despite its financial stringency. Now, from August 1, 2012 onward, all families of the state having BPL (below poverty line) and Antodoya cards will be provided 35 kg of rice per month, at the rate of Rs 2 per kg, which once again demonstrated the alternative vision and pro-people stance of the Left Front government. This decision of the state cabinet was announced by the chief minister, Manik Sarkar, at a press conference at the Civil Secretariat the same evening.


At the same time, Sarkar announced that APL (above poverty line) families too would from now on be entitled to 20 kg, while till now they had been getting 18 kg of rice through the public distribution system.


The decision was widely applauded by the people of the state, who are coming out in rallies to applaud the Left Front governmentís historic decision.


Announcing the decision of the state cabinet, Manik Sarkar said there are 1,81,876 BPL cardholder families in the state. Till now they were getting 35 kg of rice at a price of Rs 6.15 per kg. In addition to them, there are 1,13,124 Antodoya cardholder families who were getting 35 kg of rice at a price of Rs 3 per kg. Both these categories of people shall now get 35 kg of rice at a price of Rs 2 per kg from August 1. A total of 2,95000 families or about 15 lakh people shall be benefited by this decision which will cost the government an additional amount of Rs 36.25 crore per year.


As for APL families, Sarkar said their number is 6, 63,066 in the state and they families were getting 18 kg of rice per month at Rs 10.35 per kg. But now the government has decided that these families would be given 20 kg of rice from August 1. He said in the last BPL survey conducted in the state, the percentage of the people below the poverty line was found to be 68 per cent, but that the central government has allotted BPL cards to only 40 per cent of the population.


Criticising the approach of the proposed central Food Security Act, Manik Sarkar said the Left Front government of Tripura is not completely opposed to the views of the centre that had sent the draft bill to the states. The state government is only demanding that the people should not be divided into APL and BPL categories. Rather the centre should ensure that all the families, irrespective of the category, should get 35 kg of rice at Rs 2 per kg. We are sticking to that demand, Manik Sarkar said, adding that the state government has taken a very brave decision despite its financial hardships. The prices of essential commodities are increasing incessantly. The BPL and Antodoya families were having a tough time to make both ends meet. So the Left Front government has tried to provide them as much relief as was possible within its limited means. Severely criticising the faulty criteria applied by the centre to identify the BPL families, Manik Sarkar said attempts are being made to exclude a large segment of the population from the BPL list. But the Left Front has been demanding that there should be a common yardstick all over the country to identify the BPL families --- a demand which now other states have also started raising. Sarkar also lambasted the unnecessary delay in determining the number of BPL families.


As another positive step, the Left Front government of Tripura has also decided to felicitate the toppers among the girls from religious minorities, obtaining 60 per cent marks in secondary and higher secondary examination with Begum Rokeya Award. The recipients of this award shall be given a gold medal and a cash prize of Rs 5,000.


The government has also decided to appoint 150 new doctors to the government health service.


Through different statements, the Tripura Left Front Committee and the CPI(M)ís Tripura state secretariat have congratulated the state government for the historic decision to give 35 kg of rice per month at a price of Rs 2 per kg to the BPL cardholder families. They termed it as a bold step in favour of the poor despite the financial hardship faced by the state because of the adverse rewards of the 13th Finance Commission. Both the CPI(M) and the Left Front urged the central government to give 35 kg of foodgrains to all families irrespective of BPL or APL at Rs 2 per kg and supply all the families 14 essential commodities all over the country at a fair price through the public distribution system.