‘Annashree Yojna meant as help’

Delhi government on Tuesday rejected criticism of its newly launched food programme Annashree Yojna saying an amount of Rs 600 is being given as ‘assistance’ to the poor families who have been left out of the PDS system due to a cap on number of beneficiaries fixed by the Centre.

Government said the Centre had put the upper limit of the BPL households in respect of Delhi at 4.09 lakh and the new scheme was launched to provide some sort of support to those people who are not getting subsidised food due to the cap.

As per official figures, Delhi has a total of 7.5 lakh BPL families,  of which only 4.09 lakh are eligible to get ration under public distribution system.

Addressing a joint press conference, Food and Supplies minister Harun Yusuf and Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s Parliamentary Secretary Mukesh Sharma said the amount of Rs 600 is not being given to meet the food budget of the beneficiaries but to provide them some sort of ‘support’.

The BJP had slammed the scheme, wondering how an amount of Rs 600 could provide for basic needs like pulses and rice for a family. The opposition party had sharpened its attack following Dikshit’s suggestion at the launch of the scheme that a family of five can get wheat, rice and pulses with the amount.

Dikshit, however, had clarified later that her comments were taken out of context as she was explaining various aspects of the scheme.

The scheme was launched on Saturday by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi under which monthly cash subsidy of Rs 600 is being transferred directly into Aadhaar-linked bank account of the senior-most female member of two lakh poor families in the first phase.

‘The city government never claimed that it would provide full kitchen support to the beneficiaries under its new scheme. It has been stating right from the beginning that the government would provide a helping hand to identified vulnerable families,’ said Sharma, rebutting the criticism.

Yusuf said the upper limit of the BPL households eligible to get subsidised food under PDS has been fixed by the Government of India at 4.09 lakh though the city has 7.5 lakh BPL families.

‘We launched the scheme to provide support to those who are left out by the PDS due to the cap,’ he said.

Nearly 14,000 beneficiaries were given cash subsidy of Rs 4,800 as entitlements for last eight months on Tuesday as the scheme is being implemented with retrospective effect from 1 April.

The Delhi government has tied up with five leading banks for implementation of the scheme and Aadhaar-linked bank accounts are being opened in a total of 827 branches of these banks across the city.

‘The government intends to enlarge ambit of this scheme by bringing more and more families under Dilli Annashree Yojna,’ Yusuf said, adding that the scheme will benefit those people who have been residing in slum and resettlement colonies.

‘The woman head of the family would have an option to spend the money as per need of the family. There is no scope of misuse or pilferage of the amount as it would be transferred into the bank account of the beneficiary,’ he said.

Sharma said beneficiaries of the scheme would not be deprived of the benefits being provided under other social sector schemes.
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