//Free consumer cards coming for poor families in Kerala

Free consumer cards coming for poor families in Kerala

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco) will introduce consumer privilege cards with accident insurance cover, Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Adoor Prakash announced here on Friday.

The cards will be given to more than 16-lakh below-the-poverty-line (BPL) ration-card holders free of charge. Farmers and others will get it for an annual fee of Rs.30. The Minister told presspersons that the cardholders would get an accident insurance cover of Rs.1 lakh (payable on death or disablement). Medical treatment of up to Rs.10,000 for accident-related injuries would also be covered. Federal Bank would advance farm loans of up to Rs.50,000 to cardholders at an interest rate of 8 per cent a year. Interest concessions would be available on gold loans also. There would be an insurance cover of up to Rs.10,000 on such loans in case of death or disablement by accident. Besides, two dependent children would get educational assistance of up to Rs.5,000 each. A dependent daughter would get Rs.10,000 to cover marriage expenses

The Supplyco, Mr. Prakash said, would provide two per cent discount on purchases from its stores, such as Neethi medical stores, by cardholders. The card could also be used for payment of telephone and other bills. Pepper cultivators would get ATM services and loans against stocks in warehouses. He said the Supplyco hoped to increase its annual turnover to Rs.700 crores from Rs.497 crores last year.

The Minister said the scheme would be launched on February 1, along with one for providing rice at Rs.3 a kg for BPL families. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy would inaugurate rice distribution and Minister for Finance Vakkom Purushothaman would launch the consumer card at a function at Varkala. He said he had convened a meeting of ration shop owners on Friday as a prelude to launching of the distribution of subsidised rice. The rice, subsidised at Rs.3.20 a kg, would be of the same quality as that distributed under various employment schemes of the Union Government.

He said the licences of any ration dealer found to be diverting rice would be cancelled. The officers had been authorised to cancel the licences with immediate effect if they were convinced of diversion.