As wheat stocks bulge, the government will release 5,00,000 tonnes of additional grains at a discount for all ration card-holders, a panel of ministers decided on Wednesday.
India is clearly not in a hurry to lift the ban on wheat export and focus on shoring up domestic supplies to curb food prices. Freeing more stocked grains will also ease the pressure on storage space.
Subsidised grains are supplied through fair price shops to two types of card-holders, those below poverty line (BPL) and above poverty line (APL).
“The food situation is comfortable. So, we have decided to release more grains,” Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said at the end of an hour-long meet headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
The allocation will cost the government an additional Rs 2,000 crore, which will show up in the food subsidy bill of
Rs 46,906.68 crore.
An official said the government was agreeable to an increase in food subsidy bill if that helped curb prices, especially food inflation.
About 6.52 crore BPL families, including 2.43 crore highly vulnerable Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families, get 34 million tonnes of cheap grains through the targeted public distribution system (TDPS).
Wheat production in India, the world’s second-biggest grower, is expected to be slightly higher than last year’s all-time high of 80.7 million tonnes.