With Meals For Rs 25 Each, Free Food For Bedridden, Kerala Govt Vows Hunger-Free State
In a welcome move, the Kerala government has proposed a new project to eradicate hunger from the state, even as India's position is going down in the poverty index. The Hunger-free Kerala project was announced by Finance Minister Thomas Isaac while presenting the state government's budget on Friday, February 7.
Under the scheme, the government proposes to set up 1,000 hotels run by Kudumbashree (a poverty eradication and women empowerment programme implemented by the state government) to provide meals at a nominal price of ₹25.
Furthermore, with the help of sponsors, these outlets will provide 10 per cent of the meals for free. For this, the Civil Supplies Corporation will provide rice and other food materials at a subsidised rate. The state will also provide free food to bedridden patients at their residence.
"At a time when India is dropping in the Global Hunger Index, in order to make Kerala a hunger-free state, the government had proposed this scheme in the last budget. The Department of Food and Civil Supplies finalised the scheme necessary to realise this initiative," said Isaac.
To kick start the project, the scheme will be first implemented in two taluks of Alappuzha district - Ambalappuzha and Cherthala. The government is aiming to declare the two taluks hunger-free by April. Following this, more areas will be covered in the 2020-21 financial year.
In a scathing attack on the BJP-led Centre, the finance minister said that the central government was 'strangulating' the southern state by denying funds.
"The Centre has been strangulating Kerala by denying funds for the state and has been moving on a self-destructive path by corporate-friendly policies and privatisation. The GST implementation has not been beneficial for the state," he said.
Other highlights of the 2020-21 state budget included an allocation of Rs 3,809 crore for various women's welfare programmes, which will be vastly used for strengthening Kudumbashree units, setting up 'She Lodges' (lodges for women) and constructing toilets for women.
Furthermore, Rs 1,000 crore has been allotted for coastal area development, Rs 1,500 crore for the public works department, Rs 1,000 crore for village road projects and Rs 4,383 crore for drinking water projects in the state. The government also increased all welfare pension funds by Rs 100.