State may buy sugar from open market for beneficiaries of Food Security Act
The sugar corporations that had promised to sell the substance to the government at cheap rates backed out in February, leaving officials in a fix
In a bid to make sugar available in fair price shops in the state, the state government might purchase the substance from the open market, shelling out more money from its pocket to do so.
In a tug of war between the sugar corporations and the Government of Maharashtra, the beneficiaries of the Food Security Act and those APL (Above Poverty Line) have been deprived of sugar at cheap prices since February.
“There was a contract between sugar corporations and the government of Maharashtra, according to which the state government was supposed to purchase sugar from the corporations at the rate of Rs 27 per kg, and then provide it to the beneficiaries though fair price shops. However, at the last moment, the sugar corporations refused to sell the sugar at the decided rate. This is why we could not provide sugar to the beneficiaries,” said head District Supply Officer (Pune district) Jyoti Kadam.
Deepak Kapoor, the Secretary of the Civil and Food Supply Ministry held a meeting in Mumbai on Monday that was attended by all DSOs of the state. At the meeting, he said that soon, sugar corporations are expected to place a fresh solution before the state government.
However, highly placed sources in the Civil and Food Supply department said that if a solution could not be reached, the state government is prepared to procure sugar from the open market, spending its own funds.
Meanwhile, the 33 fair price shops in the Pune district have been receiving frequent complaints from beneficiaries over the poor supply of sugar.
There are 3.39 lakh beneficiaries of the Antyodaya Anna Yojana, which is included in the Food Security Act.
The primary objective of the Act is to guarantee cheap food grains to nearly 70% of country’s 1.2 billion people. The broader aim is to alleviate chronic hunger and poverty.
Fair price shops
The state-run FCI will distribute subsidised grains through a nationwide network of fair price shops. Under the programme, beneficiaries can get a total of 5 kgs of subsidised rice, wheat and coarse grains a month.