Chandigarh, Nov 16 (PTI) The BJP and the Congress Thursday slammed the AAP government in Punjab over its plans to roll out a scheme for the delivery of wheat flour at the doorsteps of beneficiaries.
While the BJP accused the Bhagwant Mann government of "hijacking" the Centre's wheat distribution scheme for "cheap publicity and political gains", the Congress said it would put additional burden on the state exchequer.
Referring to a report in a section of media suggesting that the AAP government plans to start home delivery of wheat or wheat flour for beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act, Punjab BJP chief Sunil Jakhar alleged that the AAP dispensation would circumvent the central scheme.
He said that under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, 80 crore poor people in the country get free foodgrains.
In Punjab, the number of such beneficiaries are 1.41 crore, Jakhar said.
He claimed the scheme for home delivery of wheat flour would cost Rs 670 crore.
The AAP government should let the public know why a central scheme, which is being implemented smoothly in the state, is being tinkered with, he said.
The central scheme is being "hijacked", he alleged.
Responding to Jakhar's allegations, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) spokesperson in Punjab Ahbaab Grewal said the BJP leader was not concerned about the state.
"These people are shedding crocodile tears to fool Punjabis. But now the people of Punjab are not going to fall into their trap," he said.
If Jakhar and other BJP leaders are so concerned about Punjab then why did they not raise the issues of pending rural development fund and withholding of funds under the National Health Mission with the Centre, asked Grewal.
Meanwhile, Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Partap Singh Bajwa cautioned the Aam Aadmi Party government against this "faulty" scheme.
"It is not only the beneficiaries who are prone to get substandard flour but the flagship scheme of the AAP government will also increase the unnecessary burden on the state exchequer," Bajwa said in a statement.
"The officials of the Food and Civil Supplies Department have already raised their concern that they have no way to ascertain the quality of the wheat flour. Yet, the AAP government is adamant to go ahead with this scheme," Bajwa claimed.
He said that instead of wheat flour, the government should provide wheat grains to the beneficiaries.
Bajwa accused the AAP government in Punjab of dismantling the smoothly running ration depot system to merely satisfy the "irrational idea of the AAP bosses sitting in Delhi." "By bearing expenses of grinding wheat and using manpower to deliver 'atta' on the doorstep, the AAP seems to have been hell-bent on augmenting extra burden on the already deteriorated fiscal health of the state," Bajwa said.
The opposition leader said while it is possible to assess the quality of wheat grain, it is almost impossible to figure out the standard once wheat grains are ground into flour.
In July, the Punjab Cabinet had approved a revised mechanism for distribution of packaged wheat flour or wheat at the doorsteps of beneficiaries by roping in fair price shop owners.
At that time, it was said that the distribution of 'atta' or wheat shall be allowed in loose quantities, duly weighed, across the counter in ration depots (fair price shops) or in sealed packets delivered at the doorsteps of the beneficiaries or the nearest motorable point by the ration depot holders.
Last year, the AAP government's plans of starting home delivery of 'atta' was put on hold after the fair price shop owners moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court as they were against the scheme to be implemented through newly appointed distribution delivery agencies. PTI CHS VSD SMN SMN