India is witnessing a strange spectacle of the falling rate of inflation and rocketing prices of essential commodities of daily use by the common.
BJP government in Himachal can hardly do anything to contain or bring down prices. The price pattern is mainly regulated by the policies of the Union government. Moreover, Himachal is dependent upon other states for foodgrains and other essential supplies. Due to the hilly terrain and difficult weather conditions, it is not self-sufficient in many commodities of common use, despite best efforts.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal has hit a unique novel way to mitigate the sufferings of one and all. It is the only State in the country which is providing subsidised ration to the whole of its population—those living Below the Poverty Line (BPL) as also those Above the Poverty Line (APL).
“That is the only way to help people come out of the scourge of the rising prices”, says Prof. Dhumal. The Himachal government has energised the public distribution system with a network of 4,403 Fair Price Shops (FPS) to provide subsidised foodgrains and other commodities not only to the BPL families but also helping the general public including the APL families to mitigate the sufferings of the common man in the State because of rising prices. Had this not been done, many people in the State would have had to go without food, says Prof. Dhumal.
Himachal Pradesh has the distinction of being the only State in the country where the APL families are getting 3 kilograms of pulses at Rs 25 per kg against the market price ranging between Rs 40 to Rs 50, edible oil and refined oil at the Rs 45 and Rs. 40 per liter, respectively, and iodised salt at Rs 4 per kg.
This step is costing the Government a whopping sum of Rs 131 crore as subsidy. “When it is a matter of providing relief to the people, money should not be the stumbling block”, says Prof. Dhumal.
In the State, the Food and Supplies Department has issued over 15.58 lakh ration cards under all categories of Targeted Public Distribution System which includes 10.44 lakh, APL families, 3.17 lakh BPL families and 1.97 lakh families under Antyodaya Ann Yojana (AAY). A total number of 5.14 lakh BPL families have been targeted under BPL scheme out of which 1.97 lakh are the poorest among the poor, covered under Antyodaya Ann Yojana scheme under which BPL families are being supplied 35 kg of foodgrains (wheat or wheat flour) at the rate of Rs 5.25 per kg and 15 kg of rice at Rs 6.85 per kg per month to each identified family. As such the foodgrains subsidy to these families is about Rs 350 per month depending upon the quantity of foodgrains lifted by the family. Under the Antyodaya Ann Yojana 1.97 lakh families are being given 20 kg of wheat at Rs 2 per kg and 15 kg of rice at Rs 3 per kg.
Under the Annapurna scheme, as many as 6,373 old and destitute citizens above 65 years of age are being provided food security and supplied 10 kg of rice per month, free of cost. All those who are eligible for old-age pension under the National Old Age Pension scheme but not receiving it are eligible for free foodgrains supply. Further, superior kerosene oil is being supplied at a highly subsidised rate ranging between Rs 9.21 and Rs 10.87 per litre including freight charges in the area where sufficient supply of LPG is not available.
In tribal areas 3 litre kerosene is being supplied to each consumer having double gas connections, 8 litres to those who have single cylinder and 15 litres to those without any LPG connection.