Minister for food and civil supplies Adesh Partap Singh Kairon on Saturday said there was no comparison between the state's ambitious atta daal scheme and the Centre's food security plan as the former was far more beneficial to the poor than the other.
Kairon, who is credited with conceptulising the atta daal scheme and its subsequent implementation, said this during a sangat darshan programme at Harike in the Patti assembly segment on Saturday.
He represents the Patti assembly constituency.
Kairon further said a major decision was taken by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal this year to lessen the burden on the beneficiaries of the state's food plan.
The price of wheat flour has been significantly slashed from Rs 4 per kg to Rs 1 per kg while that of daal (pulse) it is Rs 20 per kg under the scheme, which is highly subsidised given the prices in the open market, he added.
"Under the Central scheme, the rate of wheat flour has been fixed at Rs 2 per kg and a family can receive up to 35 kg a month and not more. To bring more people under the atta-daal scheme, the Punjab government has relaxed a number of norms," he added.
This has almost doubled the number of beneficiaries from the 15 lakh covered last year, he claimed. On norms, Kairon said now a family with an annual income of Rs 60,000 was eligible for the scheme, while the earlier amount was Rs 30,000.
"The CM was very keen that more families should be covered under the scheme and, therefore, the norms were relaxed," he said during the 'sangat darshan'.
Now a farmer with less than 2.5 acres of land could also avail the scheme. Earlier, this was for the families owning less than two acres of land.
In the case of non-fertile land, the limit was fixed at five acres or less.
"The step was taken as families with small landholdings or even joint landholdings were feeling the impact of rising prices of food commodities in the open market. Moreover, landholdings in Punjab are on the decline," he added.
Kairon further said families not owning houses or those having kutcha homes could also avail the atta daal scheme.
Widows or old age pensioners and those with 40 per cent disabilities, who have no one to support them, are also eligible for getting flour and pulses at subsidised rates, he added.
He said the Rs 102 crore project for constructing bridge over the Sutlej at Kot Buddha village in his constituency had been cleared. When completed, it would shorten the distance between Tarn Taran and Ferozepur by over 30 km.
He said the Patti bus stand was constructed at a cost of Rs 3 crore while nine new roads were constructed at a cost of Rs 11 crore. A hostel at Patti was also constructed, where students from poor families could stay, he said.