Our Bureau

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan. 11

THE Kerala Government is coming out with a scheme for supply of 25 kg of rice at a price of Rs 3 a kg to all families below the poverty line (BPL).

The Chief Minister, Mr Oommen Chandy, told newspersons after a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the scheme would cover all the 20.48-lakh BPL families in the State. The scheme would cast an additional burden of Rs 12 crore on the exchequer.

At present, the BPL families are getting rice at Rs 6.20 a kg. However, about 4.78 lakh families in the BPL list are already being supplied rice at Rs 3 a kg under Andhodya Annadhana Yojana (AAY), the cost of which is borne by the Centre. The new scheme will cover all the BPL families in the State, the Chief Minister said.

The Cabinet also decided to recommend to the Governor, Mr R.L. Bhatia, to convene the Budget session of the State Assembly from February 3. The session, which will commence with the customary Governor's address, will last till the end of February.

Mr Chandy said that the Government would present a full budget for 2006-07 and a vote-on-account for four months would be passed during the session.

He said he would highlight the achievements of the State in the economic and other spheres in his interactions with the CEOs of the developed countries at the World Economic Forum meet, which is being held from January 25 to 29 at Davos, Switzerland.

The Chief Minister pointed out that the meet was not an occasion for attracting investments. At the same time, it would give the opportunity to project the State's achievements and potentials in an overall perspective.

There would be interactions focusing on specific topics and with particular delegations, he said and added that Canada had expressed interest in meeting him.

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, will visit the State on February 3 and 4 and he will attend programmes here and in Cochin. However, the itinerary was yet to be finalised, he said.

In response to a question, Mr Chandy asserted that there were no anomalies in the appointment of Ecosmart India Ltd as consultants for the preparation of Sabarimala master plan. The company had established the credibility for preparing well-planned and eco-friendly projects, he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 12, 2006)
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