Srinagar: Two additional kilograms of rice, which the governor had announced to calm angry protests over the food law, are being provided to consumers at market rates.
The state administrative council, equivalent to the state cabinet during the governor’s rule, had on March 15 announced enhancement of the ration quota from 5 kilos to 7 kilos per soul in the Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Priority Sector House Holds (PSHH) category.
The decision was taken in the backdrop of protests against the implementation of National Food Security Act (NFSA) in Kashmir.
The government had announced that the additional 2 kilos per head shall be priced at subsidised rate of Rs 12 per kilo of rice and Rs 10 per kilo of wheat.
However, even as the public distribution outlets are ready to provide the additional two kilos along with the prescribed quantity, the consumers are being asked to pay according to market price for the supplementary grains.
A group of consumers told Kashmir Reader that the extra two kilos are sold at the government depots and fair price shops at 25-30 rupees per kilo, which is twice the price set by the government.
“This is sheer injustice. The government rate for extra 2 kilos is Rs 24 but I am asked to pay Rs 50. It is not fair,” said Rahti Begum, an aggrieved resident of Natipora locality. Begum is listed in the below poverty line (BPL) category.
“The extra 2 kilos of subsidised rice cost the same at private groceries,” Saleema Begum, another resident, said.
However, CAPD storekeeper of the area Sanaullah justifies his claim for extra money from the consumers citing a government directive.
“It is the government order to sell extra 2 kilos of rice at Rs 50. The customers have the choice to buy it or not,” Sanaullah said. But he did not show the order to this reporter.
The new government stated that for a typical BPL of 5 members, the availability of ration will be fixed at 35 kilos (7 kg per member).
“Apart from full availability of 35 kilograms of food-grains, the family which was earlier incurring a monthly expenditure of Rs 224 on the purchase of food-grains (Rs 6.40×35 kgs of rice) will now be spending only Rs 195 (Rs. 3×5 kgs + Rs 12 x 2 kgs in a 5-member family), resulting in food bill savings to the family,” the order said.
However, the government order is followed in breach at its own outlets. The consumers also complained that they are being provided only four kilos per person instead of 7.
Director CAPD Mushtaq Ahmad Shah said that no price hike has been ordered for the extra quantity of food grains. He said action would be taken against the storekeepers who provide less quantity of rice to the consumers or charge extra money for the additional quota.
He said that extra 2 kilos of rice would cost Rs 25 to PSHHs while the BPLs would be charged at the rate of Rs 20 for two kilograms.