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PM’s Image on Synthetic Rice Bags Under PMGKY Cost Rs 13 Crore in Just one State: RTI Reply

Coming just ahead of the 2024 elections, these FCI free rice bags are to be distributed to 81 crore poor households across the country.
Coming just ahead of the 2024 elections, these FCI free rice bags are to be distributed to 81 crore poor households across the country.

Image Courtesy: Twitter/@AjayBos93388306

New Delhi: After issuance of Covid vaccine certificates imprinted with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s images, it’s the turn of free rice bags with his huge photo staring out, which is being distributed by Food Corporation of India (FCI) across the country. And the amount being spent on this is Rs 13 crore in just one state – Rajasthan.

This comes just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and is being seen as an attempt to promote the ‘brand image’ of PM Modi, using taxpayer money.

According to a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by activist Ajay Bose, FCI, Jaipur, Rajasthan, said that Rs 13,29,71,454 (1,07,45,168 bags × Rs 12.375) was spent on PM Modi’s image printed on ration bags under the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana. Bose had sought information on tenders floated by the Jaipur FCI office to get the printing of PM’s photo done on the rice bags.

The order in Rajasthan has been given to companies such as Salasar Technotex Pvt Ltd, Rajasthan Flexible Packaging Ltd and Alliance Polysacks Pvt Ltd, as per a report in News Minute.

“While Rajasthan is buying synthetic bags worth Rs 12.3 for each bag, Nagaland is buying for Rs 9.3 for each bag. The contract for Nagaland has been handed over to Rajasthan Flexible Packaging,” said the NM report.

Also, these synthetic bags are replacing the usual jute bags, which are environment-friendly as well as a big boost for the struggling jute industry.

 In 2020, when the free grain scheme was launched after the pandemic to feed 80 crore poor households, “unbranded 50kg bags” were used to disburse the foodgrain.  “The branding of bags with faces of political figures has begun in 2024, ahead of the election”, the consumer affairs ministry was quoted as saying by The Hindu.

Tamil Nadu has floated a tender for the supply of 1.14 crore bags. Maharashtra is yet to finalise tendering, the report said.

In addition, the distribution of subsidised Bharat Rice @ Rs29/kg comes ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, despite protests by some non-BJP ruled governments, such as Kerala, which claims to be distributing the same quality of rice @ Rs 24/kg in the state.

Read Also: Kerala: LDF Govt Terms ‘Bharat Rice’ Sale as ‘Political Gimmick’, ‘Violation of Federal Principles’

The Kerala government lashed out at this move by terming it as a “political gimmick”, refusing to install PM selfie points, banners and posters in state ration shops.

The Pinarayi Vijayan government also accused the Union government of “double standards” with respect to the demands of the state on its request for more rice to be supplied through PDS. This is while taxpayer money is being spent on getting bags printed with the PM’s image.

“The government has not increased the rice allocation by a single kg for the past eight years, despite Kerala being the state that effectively intervenes in the market to control the prices”, the state food minister had said in the House recently. 

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