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Sahdev Tandi, who pulls cycle rickshaw in Chhattisgarh’s capital city, manages cooking with firewood in his house in Jagannath Nagar. But the union government’s decision to restrict the supply of subsidized LPG cylinder has come as a big jolt for him.
This is not because Tandi has been planning to get a gas connection for his house. The cap on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinder to six per year has cast shadow on the subsidized food that he was getting under a scheme launched by the Chhattisgarh government.
Under the scheme known as Annapurna Dal-Bhaat Centre (Pulse-Rice Centre), the beneficiaries were getting a meal for just Rs 5. The menu in the meal offered dal, rice and a vegetable. It had been a popular scheme of the Raman Singh government in the state. The centres executing the scheme were getting subsidize from the state government.
The decision of the union government to restrict the supply of subsidized gas cylinders to six has put the centre owners in a fix. For, it is not possible for them to run the centre with just six cylinders in a year. The centres were also getting gas cylinders at a subsidized rate that now stood terminated with the decision of the union government.
“We have been requiring at least three cylinders in a week and now managing a year with just six cylinders cannot be even thought of,” Rameshwar Sahu, who runs a centre here told Business Standard. If the government fails to take any initiative to provide subsidized cylinders, they will be left with no option than to close down the centres, he added.
In Sahu’s centre, on average 50 people take meals every day. Of them, most are cycle rickshaw pullers.
The labourers and poor people managing their bread and butter with limited financial resources have been availing a full meal at a nominal cost of Rs 5.
A total of 152 Annapurna Dal Bhaat Centres are being run in the entire state of Chhattisgarh. Besides individuals, the centres are managed by social organizations, Gram Panchayats and self-help groups in the panchayat and village levels.
The state government has been providing free rice for the centre under the scheme. According to the state government officials, about 15 to 20,000 people are daily availing the benefit of the scheme in the state.