By Debananda Medak
Guwahati: Hundreds of PDS ‘wholesale consumer co-operative society’ workers and fair price shop dealers on Wednesday alleged that the state government has been forcing them to starve since July 2019 by not releasing the outstanding commission against the already distributed PDS items.
A secretary of one of the wholesale consumer co-operative societies from Dhemaji, on condition of anonymity, said, ‘More than 720 wholesale consumer co-operative societies and fair price shop dealers from across the state are about to receive Rs 30 to 50 lakh each as commission. However, the disbursement of the commission has been pending since July 2019. Our distribution was not even stopped during the period of lockdown. But we are made to starve in reward.’
‘We have spent our limited cash to ensure availability and smooth distribution of the PDS items so that the poor are not troubled in getting their routine meal. In reward, we are starving now,’ the secretary stressed adding that the cooperative societies are also facing hindrance in managing the wage workers, who are thousands in numbers across the state for no releasing the commission.
Reacting to the allegation, food and civil supplies minister Phani Bhushan Choudhury said, ‘Releasing of the commission was delayed because of certain reformative measures. Earlier, the commission was transferred to the respective deputy commissioners of the districts. From now on, the outstanding amount will be transferred directly to the bank accounts of the cooperative societies, transporters and fair price shop owners.’
The minister said the state share was released till December 2019 while the central share was released till June 2019. ‘In fact, we are moving to release the state share for the month of January and February. Process of releasing Rs 29 crore of the central shares for the month of July and August 2019 is also on the final stage. We are hoping to release it within a week of time.’
According to data available in the official website of the department of food, civil supplies and consumer affairs, out of 19.06 lakh selected beneficiaries, 12.02 lakhs of beneficiaries take PDS benefits as BPL families and rest 7.04 lakh of beneficiaries are included under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana category families.