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Sugar shortage at fair price shops leaves bitter taste in mouths of poor

Thanks to the ongoing tussle between the state government and sugar corporations, beneficiaries falling in the Below Poverty Line (BPL) and the Above Poverty Line (APL) categories will have to wait for at least a couple of months before they are able to purchase sugar at fair price shops. Some say they last purchased sugar at subsidised rates in February.

After numerous failed attempts to purchase sugar from corporations, the state has now decided to buy it from private companies after conducting an online auction. Once purchased, the sugar will be distributed across various districts via the same method. To formalise the process, the state recently published a Government Resolution (GR) after a cabinet meeting on March 3.

But the district supply pffice, which would be responsible for distributing the sugar procured through e-auctioning method, is not aware about the GR. “I’m unaware of any such GR, as I was busy with election duty,” said Assistant Commissioner of Food and Supply (Pune division) Prakash Kadam.

He asked the correspondent to contact the district supply officer. When contacted, district supply officer Jyoti Kadam said she was yet to receive the GR from the Mantralaya. However, a copy of it has been uploaded on the government’s website (www.maharashtra.gov.in).

“I didn’t notice the copy of GR on the website. The person who drafted it in Mantralaya has been transferred. Therefore, I have not been able to get the information on it,” said Kadam.

Deal sours
Kadam said a deal was struck between the state and the sugar corporations in February, according to which the government was supposed to procure sugar from the corporations at Rs 27 per kg and provide it to the beneficiaries though fair price shops.

However, the sugar corporations backtracked at the last minute and refused to sell at the pre-decided rate. Though the state showed its readiness to purchase sugar from the open market, its plan tanked. It then decided to involve a private company.

As per the latest plan, the private firm would purchase sugar from the open market via e-auction and provide it to the district officials using the same method.

Heavy on pocket
“Whenever I ask for sugar at the fair price shop, it is never available. I have to purchase it from other grocery shops at market price, which I can’t afford,” said Deepali Khambe, who sells toffees at a roadside stall in Gokhale Nagar.

Vimal Gaikwad, a senior citizen, said, “It has been four months since I purchased sugar at the subsidised price. I am poor and can’t purchase sugar at market price.”

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