A day after taking over the top office, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan focused on what could be the burning issue for his new government that started working from Sunday — inflation.
Chavan ordered the state administration to give relief to the inflation-affected aam janata.
The council of ministers, which met for the first time, endorsed the CM’s decision and granted Rs 88 crore for making three essential commodities — pulses (tur daal), sugar and edible oil — available at fair price shops run by the Civil Supplies Department.
Over two crore people will benefit from the scheme till December 4. The scheme is likely to be extended next month as well.
Tur daal will be sold at Rs 55 per kg (open market price Rs 95-100), sugar at Rs 20 per kg (market price Rs 32-40) and palm oil at Rs 30 kg (market price not available) at the fair price shops.
A government release said 10,000 metric tonne of pulses, 29,000 tonne of sugar and 15,000 kilolitre of palm oil would be bought. The Opposition is likely to rake up the inflation issue at the special three-day session of the legislature that will start in the city from Monday.
Soaring prices has been a major cause of worry for the ruling Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) even when they went to polls last month. Sensing trouble, the government had then put in place a scheme for providing essential commodities at cheaper rates in PDS shops.
Though prices continued to escalate and the Opposition made it a poll issue, the people voted the Congress-NCP to power. The ensuing fight between the allies over power sharing lost 16 crucial days and the caretaker government headed by Chavan could not take any policy decision.
So, when the new Cabinet set its agenda on Sunday, inflation control featured on its priority list.
Chavan also directed officials to unearth bogus ration cards because the holders of such cards deny needy people their share. He also issued directions to take action against the merchant firms that hoard essential commodities for profiteering. The government is likely to extend the scheme next month as well because the Centre’s projection said prices would not come down until the new produce hits market after two months.
In another decision, the Cabinet asked the Energy department to form a group of bureaucrats to monitor the state’s power generation programme that aims at making the state electricity-surplus by 2012. The group will keep the Cabinet in the loop every month.