ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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ANDHRA PRADESH-Revised Subsidised Rice Scheme-A Bureaucratic Fiat

Revised Subsidised Rice Scheme A Bureaucratic Fiat M Shatrugna THE Janardhan Reddy government in a major reversal of the NTR 'subsidised' rice scheme has altered the policy drastically on the plea that the scheme is being maintained at the expense of relevant developmental activities like irrigation and power. In a note circulated to the press before the decision was announced, the government has sought to explain its decision as having been a response to the findings of a research study published by the Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS) over four years ago, when in fact the study has been quoted out of context to provide support for its decision. The subsidised rice scheme was introduced by Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy just before the 1983 general elections pricing 1 kg of rice at Rs 1.90 meant for the poor. But the scheme received a fillip only after the TDP came to power in January 1983 when it was implemented vigorously as part of the social welfare programme. The free noon-meal programme for poor students in the state supported educational institutions also formed a part of the scheme. Though Andhra Pradesh is a rice surplus state, a lengthy procedure was evolved to procure rice from the farmers, mill it and supply rice at subsidised rates as part of the public distribution system. Originally the Food Corporation of India (FC1) only procured rice from the farmers and supplied an agreed quantity from the central pool to the state Civil Supplies Corporation, The present formula adopted is that for every unit of rice the FCI procured, one unit could be utilised by the farmers both for export outside the state and sale in the open market within the state in the ratio of 2:1. Thus for example, during 1990-91, the FCI procured 27 lakh metric tons, gave 18 lakh metric tons to the state government under the PDS and retained 9 lakh metric tons in the central pool. To balance this, the farmers are allowed to export 18 lakh metric tons outside the state and sell 9 lakh metric tons in the open market within the state. Also the farmers are supposed to keep 20 lakh metric tons for their own consumption and seed purposes. Now the rice procured by the FCI, the legally permissible exportable quantity to other states and the rice that normally remains' with the farmers, according to the government, will work out to be 65 lakh metric tons. With the expected production of 105 lakh metric tons for 1991-92, the open market will have about 40 lakh metric tons which the government hopes will bring down the open market price of rice. In addition to the FCI contribution the state government procures certain quantity directly from the farmers on a 'negotiated' price to meet the demand.

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