Lack of funds led to the decision, which would help the government save ₹450 crore a month

The Tamil Nadu government has stopped the free supply of toor dal, edible oil and sugar to ration card holders through the public distribution system (PDS).

A lack of funds forced the government to take the decision, which would help it save ₹450 crore a month, according to a senior official.

As a relief measure after the outbreak of COVID-19, the government provided the three commodities, along with rice, free of cost to all cardholders from April to July. Initially, it had given a cash support of ₹1,000 each to the cardholders. In June, another round of cash support of ₹1,000 was provided in those districts that had intensified the lockdown.

From this month, if PDS beneficiaries want to have the commodities, they will have to pay up.

A kilogram of toor dal and sugar costs ₹30 and ₹25, respectively. In the case of Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) cardholders, sugar is supplied at ₹13.50 a kg. Depending upon the cardholders’ entitlement, two kg sugar is also provided. The edible oil — palmolein oil — costs ₹25 a litre. Only rice or wheat is being given free, as has been the practice for years. Besides, the rice-drawing cardholders are getting additional entitlement of rice — 5 kg per person per month. In respect of priority household cards, numbering around 1.1 crore, the Central government is providing rice for free. In the case of non-priority household cards, accounting for about 90 lakh, the State is giving the commodity for free, buying it from the Centre at ₹22 a kg.

Though the Union government has said that it will provide pulses for free to the States up to November, along with the additional entitlement of rice or wheat, it is willing to provide only channa dal, which is not consumed by people of the State in a big way. They prefer toor dal, which is why the State has to charge the people for it, the official said.

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