The Congress-led UDF opposition staged a walkout in the Assembly on Wednesday, in protest against alleged lapses in functioning of Public Distribution System in the state even as the government said ration items under National Food Security Act would be distributed from November 14. Ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and Opposition members traded charges over taking necessary steps for implementation of the Food Act, which was passed in Parliament three years ago.
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“Even within a short span of few months, the LDF government has completed all arrangements for supply of food articles to people under the new Act from Nov 14,” the Food Minister P Thilothaman said. A draft of the priority list was published last month and about 13 lakh complaints were received over it, he said, adding Food Department officials were looking into it.
Thilothaman said the LDF government would request the Centre to increase its quota to the state from the 14.25 lakh tonnes to 16.05 lakh tonnes under the Food Security act. He said the Centre had refused more time for the state to implement the Act and insisted on a roll out in November. “The previous UDF regime did nothing to roll out the Act and the LDF government faces several challenges to implement the scheme,” he said.
Referring to the UDF charge that fishermen in Kerala were not getting kerosene to operate traditional craft, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan has assured that the state’s demand for more kerosene would be considered. Vijayan said he had taken up the issue with the Union Minister during the latter’s visit to the state on Tuesday.
Attacking the LDF government over the functioning of PDS, V T Balaram (Congress), while seeking an adjournment motion on the issue, alleged that supply of food items through ration shops had completely stopped in the four northern districts of Kasargod, Kozhikode, Waynad and Kannur. He said the supply had also been badly affected in other parts of Kerala and charged that inefficiency and lapse of the department was the main reason for the present situation. Alleging that Thilothaman was politicising the issue, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, along with other members staged a walkout.