Telangana’s Congress government faces daunting task in fulfilling guarantees

After fulfilling two guarantees in less than a week, the new Congress government is Telangana is now taking steps to fulfil the remaining four guarantees but the review meetings held during the last few days for their implementation show that it faces a daunting task due to financial challenges.

Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy and ministers have been holding a series of review meetings with the departments concerned to evolve modalities for fulfilling other guarantees.

The Chief Minister and ministers have been reiterating their commitment to fulfill all guarantees within 100 days despite the financial problem faced by the state.

While working out modalities for implementing the guarantees, the government is also collecting data about finances of every department and has decided to release a white paper so that people know the facts about the financial position of all the departments.

During a review meeting chaired by the Chief Minister on power sector and to discuss implementation of the guarantee for 200 units free power to poor families, the officials informed him that the total debts of the power sector are around Rs 81,000 crore and the implementation of the scheme is likely to cost Rs 4,000 crore every year.

Free travel for women in TSRTC buses and enhancement of coverage to Rs 10 lakh under health insurance scheme for the poor, Rajiv Arogyasri are the two guarantees fulfilled by the Congress government within three days after assuming office.

Monthly financial assistance of Rs 2,500 each for women from Below Poverty Line (BPL) families, cooking gas cylinders for Rs 500, 200 units of free electricity for BPL households, and annual investment support of Rs 15,000 per acre for farmers are the other major guarantees.

The Congress had also promised Rs 12,000 per year for agriculture labourers and Rs 500 bonus per quintal for paddy crop above the Minimum Support Price (MSP). The party had also given the guarantee that homeless will get house sites and Rs 5 lakh for construction of houses. Monthly pension of Rs 4,000 for senior citizens and Vidya Bharosa Card worth Rs. 5 lakh each for students are the other major promises made under six guarantees.

Irrigation, Food & Civil Supplies Minister N. Uttam Kumar Reddy on Tuesday held a review meeting on the functioning of the Consumer Affairs, Food and Civil Supplies Department. The minister accused the previous BRS government of ruining the Civil Supplies Corporation’s financial health. He said that the BRS government never supported the corporation financially and prompted it to take loans from outside agencies while giving guarantees.

Consequently, the Civil Supplies Department today has outstanding debts of Rs 52,067.03 crore which is alarming. He said that the department lost Rs 3,645.25 crore only due to interest on these loans.

Uttam Kumar Reddy said that as of today there are 89,98,546 Food Security cards in the Telangana and nearly 11.02 lakh new applications are pending. Through PDS, a total of 6,47,479 cardholders are getting six kg of rice free. Out of six kgs, five kg of rice is being provided by the Central government under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana and the remaining 1 kg of rice is being provided by the state government.

He Reddy revealed that almost 90 per cent of rice being provided by the Centre and State for Rs 39.02 per kg was not edible. The beneficiaries are selling away the poor quality PDS rice to dealers, idly-dosa units, poultry farms, etc., for as low as Rs 5 per kg. Therefore, the very purpose of supplying free rice to the poor through PDS is not being achieved.

He directed the Civil Supplies Department officials to conduct an in-depth study on the quality of rice being supplied to the ration card holders. He emphasised improving the quality of PDS rice to the beneficiaries.

“If the rice being given to the poor people is not edible, then the entire purpose is lost,” he said.

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