Kerala Assembly on Wednesday witnessed heated war of words between Food and Civil Supplies Minister P Thilothaman and former minister and KC(J) leader Anoop Jacob over the renewing of ration cards as part of the implementation of National Food Security Act in the state. While Thilothaman blamed the previous Congress-led UDF government for the delay in preparing the priority list of beneficiaries for renewing ration cards under the statutory ration system, the opposition accused the CPI(M)-led LDF government of not doing any ‘home work’ in this regard, leading to apprehension among people.
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Before staging a walk out over the issue, the opposition also said the situation had triggered confusion among poor people leading to heavy rush at different centres to rectify the anomalies in the draft of the priority list, published by the government on October 20.
Taking on the opposition, Thilothaman said even though the Food Security Act was implemented in 2013, the then UDF government had started the work for the preparation of priority list in this regard only on January, 2015.
The Minister also dismissed the charges of the Opposition that officials were not given proper training for preparing the priority list of beneficiaries.
“The previous UDF government had wasted time doing nothing for the renewal of ration cards during its tenure. The aim of the present government is to prepare an error-free list and ensure all beneficiaries get their deserved food articles under the Act,” he said.
The minister also informed the Assembly that the last date to file the complaints in connection with the priority list has been extended to November 5.
Thilothaman said the state government would make all efforts to implement the act in an effective and transparent manner.
Earlier, seeking leave for adjournment motion over the alleged irregularities in the renewing of ration cards, Jacob said there were lapses in the preparation of priority list and officials concerned were not given any training for the purpose.
He also pointed out to media reports on heavy rush witnessed at many centers across the state to renew ration cards and the inconvenience caused to the people due to this.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that the BJP-led NDA government’s “step motherly attitude” towards Kerala and the state government’s inefficiencies had resulted in collapse of the public distribution system in the state. After the reply of the minister, Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan disallowed the notice for the motion, following which the opposition walked out from the House.