Free rice scheme: Bedi insists on cash transfer to beneficiaries in Pondy

Puducherry: As the stalemate over mode of implementation of free rice scheme in Puducherry continued, Lt Governor Kiran Bedi on Wednesday insisted on direct transfer of cash equivalent to quantum of rice, saying the beneficiaries would stand to gain from it.

In a Whatsapp message, Bedi, who had been adhering to her stand that only cash should be paid instead of distributing rice to the BPL and APL families under the scheme also said, “by direct transfer of money lakhs of people will get Rs 160 crore directly into their bank accounts.”

Direct transfer of money would also help avoid pilferage, leakages, losses in distribution, cost of tenders, contractors and also ensure addition to the economy of Puducherry, she claimed. Under the scheme, 20 kg of rice free of cost was distributed to each of the families under BPL category and 10 kg under the APL category for 17 months initially after its implementation.

Subsequently, cash was remitted following modification of the scheme, which has been opposed by the territorial government. The difference of opinion between the Lt Governor and the Chief Minister V Narayanasamy on the modality of operating the scheme has caused a virtual deadlock in its implementation. With Bedi sticking to her stand and the Chief Minister objecting to her decision, the matter has now been referred to the Centre for its decision. The BJP had on Monday presented a petition to Bedi seeking a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in the free rice scheme.