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3.87 Cr Gets Free Rice

Bhubaneswar: About 3.87 crore people in Odisha are now being provided free rice. It is being distributed under the food security schemes of both the Union and State Governments. Apart from this, some other schemes also provide free rice.

The National Food Security Act was enacted in 2013 during the UPA government. At that time, the Central Government used to procure rice and wheat and supply it to the states at just Rs. 3 per kg. For this, the central government had to bear Rs 28 to 30 per kg.

When rice and wheat reached the state, the State Government used to provide the popular rice by paying a subsidy of Rs. 2 per kilo on it. The Centre is no longer giving wheat to Odisha on the basis of the National Food Security Act ever since it was asked to stop wheat and replace it with rice even though it was available at the same rate.

In March, the State Government estimated that 3,76,59,648 beneficiaries were getting rice worth Rs 1,000 under the National Food Security Act. In the meantime, after the Central Government announced to provide rice to the beneficiaries completely free of cost, now rice is available free of cost instead of rupees.

About 81 crore 35 lakh people will get free rice and wheat for the next five years by making 5 kg per head under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana across the country. The central government will spend at least Rs 11,80,000 crore from the exchequer in this regard. It is worth mentioning here that the population of the country is estimated to be 143 crores, out of which 81 crore 35 lakh people are being provided free rice and wheat as they are food insecure.

In Odisha, the State Government has launched its own food security scheme and covered about 9,97,055 beneficiaries among the aspirants as they are not able to get them covered under the National Food Security Act. Apart from this, lakhs of more people are waiting to join the scheme.

The overall population of Odisha is estimated to be around 4.5 crore, out of which about 387 lakh people are being provided free rice at 5 kg per capita per month as they are insecure in terms of food.

The State Government’s free rice distribution program will continue for another five years and the Odisha Government may have to spend more than Rs 1,250 crore from its own funds. Apart from these two schemes, the government is providing cheap rice to some hostels, bal niketans, etc. in the state. Rice is also being provided to some other categories of people, including the physically handicapped, under various schemes.

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Published Date: December 17, 2023

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