J&K Governor Increases Ration Relief After Protests
NEW DELHI: In a significant decision, the Jammu and Kashmir government has hiked the scale of ration to be distributed under the National Food Security Act which had sparked massive protests across the state.
Following a meeting of top state officials headed by Governor NN Vohra on Monday, the State Administrative Council (SAC) ordered increase of the ration scale from 5 kg to 7 kg per soul in the Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Priority Sector House Holds (PHSS) category.
"The additional 2 Kg per head shall be priced at the highly subsidised rate of Rs 12 per Kg of rice and Rs 10 per Kg of wheat. The BPL families in particular will receive major relief on account of the decision of the SAC as they will get additional quantity of food 2 kg at a highly subsidised price as aforementioned," a government spokesperson said in a statement.
The issue had sparked widespread anger across Kashmir Valley, where rice is a staple food, with even the Peoples Democratic Party, which implemented the NFSA in December last year without ratification by the state assembly, and the National Conference, calling for rollback of the "draconian" act.
In the frontier Kupwara district, anguished people had attempted to cross the Line of Control in order to procure rice grain from Pakistan administered Kashmir on two occasions following the implementation of the new act.
Reacting to the growing public anger, Governor Vohra, who has taken some popular decisions in his two month tenure, approved the increase in the scale of ration, saying that the decision will provide relief to a vast majority of people across the state.
"This intervention is unique as the state will have to bear the burden of procuring the additional quantities of food-grains pursuant to the revision in the scale of ration which is beyond the NFSA level," the spokesperson said.
The implementation of NFSA has brought additional 22 lakh souls under the beneficiary population for the first time in the state, increasing the total coverage from 99 lac souls to 119 lac souls. Vohra has directed the finance department to set aside Rs105 crore to Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution Department to implement the decision.
"Finance department shall also provide an annual 'Trading Account' facility of Rs.630 crore for upfront procurement of additional food-grains for immediate and efficient implementation of these decisions, particularly ensuring the physical availability of the required quantity of food-grains," the spokesperson said.