Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lalu wants 'janata hotels' for Bihar's poor

PATNA: Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad on Thursday asked the Bihar government to open "janata hotels" in rural areas to provide cheap food to poor people in view of the drought. Last week, 26 of the state's 38 districts were declared drought-hit. Bihar has recorded a 38 percent rainfall deficit so far this monsoon season. "The government should initiate a move to provide lunch and dinner at Rs.2 for the poor who are likely to be hit hard by the drought," Lalu Prasad said on Thursday. The former railway minister also asked middle class and affluent people to restrict their intake of food to save food grains. "We should take care to consume less to save food grains," he said, adding that as per official records India has a foodstock buffer for just 13 months. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for an aid package of Rs.23,071 crore to meet the financial burden caused by the "unprecedented drought". A 11-member central team Wednesday embarked on a three-day visit to the drought-hit districts. The drought has affected about 1.26 crore families in 26 districts with paddy coverage showing an overall shortfall of 57 percent.