New Delhi: The Government today said food subsidy bill is estimated to go up to Rs50,000 crore from Rs19,000 crore, an increase of 163%.
The government estimates the food subsidy bill to be Rs49,000-50,000 crore this year (2008-09) from Rs19,000 crore earlier, food and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar told Rajya Sabha during Question Hour.
The Minister, however, was non-committal on increasing the coverage of subsidised foodgrains to include more people.
When Brinda Karat (CPI-M) demanded 77% of people in rural areas, who, she said, earn less than Rs20 a day, should also be provided foodgrains at BPL rate, Pawar said the government would stick to the targeted public distribution system, introduced seven years back.
The Centre issues to the States rice at Rs5.65 a kg and wheat at Rs4.15 per kg for supply through ration shops for the families covered under Below Poverty Line (BPL) category.
He said the Centre is supplying foodgrains to states as per their demands, particularly for BPL and AAY categories.
The minister also said the government is aware of a report of United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) which states that 75 million more people were affected by the rise in global foodgrains prices.