Giving a shot in the arm to the Oommen Chandy government, the Election Commission (EC) has lifted the ban it had imposed on the launch of the free ration scheme announced in the 2016-17 budget.
The commission has permitted the government to go ahead with the scheme subject to the condition that no new beneficiary would be brought under its ambit.
The budget proposal was to provide free ration to all below the poverty line (BPL) and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families through ration shops.
The commission’s decision to permit the State government to go ahead with the scheme came barely a few hours after the Cabinet decided to move court to secure clearance for the scheme. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who had presented the budget, had estimated that the State’s subsidy burden would go up by Rs.500 crore on account of the new scheme.
In another related development, the Kerala High Court on Wednesday directed the Election Commission to permit the government to disburse ex gratia assistance totalling Rs.44.54 crore to 44,327 potential beneficiaries across the State from the Chief Ministers’ Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF).
According to a communication from the office of the Advocate General received by the government on Wednesday evening, the High Court issued the directive while considering a writ petition filed by four beneficiaries under the CMDRF scheme from Aluva.
When the petitions came up for hearing, the government pointed out that the applications seeking the assistance were received by the Chief Minister directly from September last year to March 3.
[Source:- The Hindu]