Modi Govt Rejects Kerala Govt's request for free rice for flood victims
The Kerala Govt had requested the Centre to provide for free rice for victims of the disastrous floods recently, according to Mathrubhoomi. Victims of this flood were earlier promised frees ration by the state. Mini Antony, the secretary of the state food department, affirmed that the distribution of free ration would start from this month onwards.
She has also slammed the Centre since it did not accept a request by the Kerala government for free food grains; as government policy states that the Minimum support Price (MSP) set prices would be the basis for the allocation in cases of disaster victims and calamity affected areas.
However, the Modi government could have given out rice at ₹3/kg, which as per NFSA (National Food Security Act), is a provision to all the beneficiaries of the Public Distribution System (PDS); that they are entitled to 5 kilograms (11 lb) per person per month of rice at ₹3 per kg. Instead, the Centre is willing to supply rice at the minimum support price of Rs 26 per kg. The Kerala government is yet to decide whether it will avail this offer.
According to Mathrubhoomi, the Centre refused to consider the request to provide rice at ₹3 per kg under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
The Wire points out that the Centre did something similar earlier in 2018 Kerala Floods when they asked the state government to pay for the ration, or cut the money from the relief fund provided by the Centre to Kerala government. The message from the Central government in 2018 stated that upon failure to make the payment for the ration, the Union government would be obliged to deduct the money from the Centre's ₹500-crore flood relief fund. However, after Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan protested the move and sent a letter to the prime minister, the Centre agreed to the demand by the state government and decided to waive the payment for the ration.
Opposition parties allege that the Centre practices favouritism towards the states that favour BJP, which shows in the fact that the Modi government gave out ₹200 crore flood-related funds for Uttar Pradesh flood relief in 2018, when there was no flood; but Kerala is repeatedly denied of such relief funds/programmes.