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Food subsidy bill to rise nearly three-fold

February 13, 2009 14:31 IST

The government said on Friday that the food subsidy bill is estimated to go up to Rs 50,000 crore (Rs 500 billion) from Rs 19,000 crore (Rs 190 billion), an increase of 163 per cent.

The government estimates the food subsidy bill to be Rs 49,000-50,000 crore (Rs 490-500 billion) this year (2008-09) from Rs 19,000 crore (Rs 190 billion) earlier, Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told Rajya Sabha during Question Hour.

Pawar, however, was non-committal on increasing the coverage of subsidised foodgrains to include more people.

When Brinda Karat (CPI-M) demanded 77 per cent of people in rural areas, who she said earn less than Rs 20 a day, should also be provided foodgrains at the 'below poverty line' rate, Pawar said the government would stick to the targeted public distribution system introduced seven years back.

The Centre issues rice at Rs 5.65 a kg and wheat at Rs 4.15 per kg to the states for supply through ration shops to families covered under the BPL category.

He said the Centre is supplying foodgrains to states as per their demands, particularly for the BPL and AAY categories.

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