Free Rice For Tea Estate Labourers, Re 1 For Others To Continue: National Food Safety Act

National Food Safety Act
Representative image

Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI: The pre-election pilot experiment with National Food Safety Act (NFSA) rice – free of cost for tea restate labourers and Re 1 a kg for others – is set to be the norm now with Dispur deciding to carry on this largesse.

Originally under this scheme, NFSA card holding families got rice at the rate of Rs 3 a kg. Under this scheme, five kg of such rice is allotted to each member of a family per month.

However, with its own initiatives, the State government started a pilot experiment to provide NFSA rice free of cost to tea estate labourers and at the rate of Re 1 a kg for others. Now Dispur is contemplating on carrying on this largesse. With such a view in mind, the State Food and Civil Supplies (F&CS) department has already floated its own corporation. In order to run this scheme in the long run in association with the FCI (Food Corporation of India), the corporation of the F&CS has already opened its own bank account with permission from the State Finance Department.

In the existing NFSA setup, it’s the FCI that supplies rice to the cooperative societies from whom the fair price shop owners collect them. Under normal the NFSA scheme the price collected from card holders is Rs 3 a kg. However, since tea estate labourers are provided this rice free of cost and at Re 1 a kg to others, Dispur has to pay FCI at the rate of Rs 3 a kg for the rice provided to tea estate workers and Rs 2 a kg for the rice given to other NFSA card holders. According to official sources, a conservative estimate shows that the State government has to cough up Rs 36 crore annually for free-of-cost rice for tea labourers and Rs 295 crore for rice at Re 1 a kg to others.

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