Bangalore: The Congress government of Karnataka has started the Anna Bhagya scheme from Wednesday under which 30 kg of rice per month will be given to BPL (below poverty line) families across the state from today at Re 1 per kg. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had announced the scheme after taking oath on June 13.
The government will spend Rs 4,300 crore every year on the scheme. However, experts say the scheme will burden the state's economy.
The scheme, a key promise of the Congress in the assembly elections in May, was originally planned to be implemented from June one but postponed due to supply side problems.
In view of the huge cost involved, the scheme has come under criticism from some quarters, including opposition BJP which has dubbed the programme a "hasty decision" without doing home-work.
Minister of State for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister Dinesh Gundurao told reporters that the Centre would give an additional 20,000 tonnes per month, while the State has signed a deal with Chhatisgarh government to get 25,000 tonnes.
Karnataka would buy the commodity from the country's "rice-bowl" at Rs 23.30 but including transportation and other cost it's expected to go up to around Rs 27 a kg, the Minister said.
Eighty-seven lakh BPL cardholders and 11 lakh "Anthyodaya Anna Yojana" beneficiaries are covered under the scheme.
Single member cardholders would get 10 kg per month, the two-member ones 20 kg and while three and above would get a maximum of 30 kg.
The government, it is estimated, would need Rs 4,200 crore for rolling out the mega scheme in the current financial year.
"We have enough stock this month", Gundurao said, adding, the government does not foresee any supply side constraints. In addition, the government has tied up with NCDEX, facilitation buying of rice through the bidding process.
(With additional inputs from PTI)