In a significant turn of events Over 3.8 Million Additional Rice Beneficiaries to Receive ₹1,000 for Pongal, the State government is expanding the Pongal gift hamper’s cash component to include approximately 38 lakh rice-drawing ration cardholders. This move comes with no stipulations, a departure from the original plan that aimed to exclude income taxpayers and employees of the Centre, State government, and public sector enterprises.
Pongal Gift Extension: A ₹380 Crore Commitment
The State government’s decision to include all ration cardholders in the ₹1,000 cash gift translates into an additional expenditure of around ₹380 crore. This extension marks a substantial financial commitment to enhance the festive celebration for a broader segment of the population.
Policy Reversal: Inclusion Over Exclusion
Initially, the authorities had implemented stringent criteria, excluding beneficiaries from the public distribution system (PDS) who fell into the categories of income tax payers and government employees. This exclusionary approach was first introduced during the disbursal of a relief amount of ₹6,000 to residents of Chennai and neighboring districts affected by Cyclone Michaung last month. However, official sources confirm the removal of these stipulations specifically for Pongal.
Comprehensive Pongal Gift: A Complete Package for All
Under the revised plan, the Pongal gift hamper will now include the cash component of ₹1,000 for all rice-drawing ration cardholders. This inclusive approach extends to the material components as well, consisting of 1 kg each of rice and sugar, along with a full piece of sugarcane.
Current Scenario: Impact on Rice-Drawing Ration Cards
Presently, there are approximately 2.19 crore rice-drawing ration cards in circulation. An official in the food sector notes that around 17% to 18% fall under the exclusion category, emphasizing the substantial impact of this policy change.
Cyclone Relief Comparison: Numbers and Outreach
Reflecting on the relief efforts for those affected by Cyclone Michaung, as of January 4, a total of 23.18 lakh individuals received a relief amount of ₹6,000 each. Among them, Chennai accounted for 13.72 lakh, Tiruvallur 6.08 lakh, Chengalpattu 3.12 lakh, and Kancheepuram 1.31 lakh. Notably, as the government allowed those not covered under the initial cash relief arrangement to apply, approximately 7 lakh individuals submitted requests for relief.
This shift towards inclusivity in the Pongal gift distribution showcases the government’s commitment to providing festive joy to a broader section of the population, fostering a sense of equality and shared celebration.