Kerala's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) EK Majhi has deferred the implementation of a new free rice scheme, introduced by the Kerala government in the state budget last month, until the election process is over.

"The new scheme was introduced in the state budget. The scheme was not implemented till the time of the declaration of the election dates. As per the Model Code of Conduct, the CEO has deferred the implementation of the scheme towards the completion of the election process," Additional Secretary and Additional CEO Sabu Paul Sebastian told International Business Times, India.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had announced in February the state government would provide 25 kg of free rice to all Below Poverty Line (BPL) families from the fiscal year 2016-17, according to Indo-Asian News Service. At present, the BPL families are given rice at Re 1 per kg.

The CEO put the implementation process on hold as the Kerala Government failed to roll out the plan before the Election Commission of India's announcement of the Assembly elections. The Model Code of Conduct reportedly came into force March 4.

In view of the CEO's order, the implementation of the Kerala Government's free rice scheme will be delayed till May. Voting for the election to the Legislative Assembly of Kerala will be held May 16 and results will be announced May 19.

According to an earlier the Hindu report, the Kerala Government had decided to distribute free rice to 20 lakh BPL ration card holders from April 1.