Madras HC: Free Rice Is Making People Lazy, Workers Being Brought From Northern States
The Madras High Court on Thursday, November 22 observed that the distribution of free Public Distribution System (PDS) rice should only be for families who fall below the poverty line (BPL).
Free Rice Is Making People “Lazy”
It also noted that giving away free rice to all the beneficiaries is making people in Tamil Nadu lazy and that labour has to be imported from the northern states for performing menial tasks. While it is required for every state government to provide basic necessities like rice and other commodities to the economically backward sections, successive governments in Tamil Nadu have reportedly extended the benefits of PDS to all people for ulterior motives, noted the bench.
A bench comprising Justices N Kirubakaran and Abdul Quddhose made these observations while hearing a petition which was challenging detention under the Goondas Act of a person accused of smuggling and selling PDS rice, reported The Economic Times. The bench also took note of the fact that irrespective of their economic status, free rice was given to every ration-card holder.
Reportedly, the Tamil Nadu government said that in the year 2017-2018 alone, Rs 2,110 crores were spent on the distribution of free rice. The High Court bench said that this large sum of money could be used judiciously for other infrastructure purposes. Moreover, even though this serves people, it is a recurring capital loss for the government, noted the bench.
Additionally, it asked the government to submit any report which shows if it has conducted any survey to identify BPL families. Advocate general Vijay Narayan sought time to get instructions as to whether the scheme should be amended to exclude other people from the programme.
Reportedly, the bench directed the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation to file its annual reports for the last 10 years. The next date of hearing has been posted as November 30.
Scheme announced in 2016
Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa had launched the scheme of free distribution of 20 kg rice to beneficiaries under the public distribution system (PDS) on June 1, 2016. It called for the distribution of 20 kg free rice to 1.83 crore cardholders and 18.62 lakh Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) beneficiaries, reported The Hindu.
Before that, the commodity was given out to the beneficiaries at a price of Rs 1, proportionate to the number of members in the family, from 12 kg to 20 kg a month per card. Besides this, 35kgs of rice was being given to people under the Antyodaya Scheme.