Chennai: The supply of commodities under the public distribution system (PDS) has been erratic across Tamil Nadu in the last few months. While consumers and opposition parties in the state raised the issue, the state government has denied.
On Monday, the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) conducted protests in front of ration shops across the state demanding supply of essential commodities, which the chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami termed as an “unnecessary protest" and said that the government had ordered “20,000 metric tonnes of grains including dal."
According to the Tamil Nadu government’s tenders information system, a tender for the purchase of 20,000 tonnes of toor dal/Canadian yellow lentil and palmolein oil under the special PDS was floated last week.
“Why did the minister delay in announcing the tender, was he sleeping," asked M. Subramanian, DMK MLA.
While the civil supplies corporation procures rice and wheat from Food Corporation of India and sugar from private or cooperative sugar mills, under the special public distribution system, toor dal, urad dal and fortified palmolein oil are bought from market through tenders.
The last time S. Vanitha from Coimbatore bought toor and urad dal from the ration shop was in December. “This month they said there wasn’t enough rice. So it was compensated with wheat. I got 10 kgs of rice and remaining wheat," she added.
Banu Begum from Chennai said that she hasn’t bought palmolein oil since November.
However, minister for Cooperation Sellur K. Raju said, “Every month roughly 2.95 lakh metric tonnes of rice, 31,868 tonnes of sugar, 13,602 metric tonnes of wheat, 23,638 tonnes of palm oil is distributed under the PDS."
But a ration shopkeeper in Chennai said that they haven’t received any supplies—urad dal, toor dal and palmolein oil after January.
The Tamil Nadu government gives rice free of cost— 4 Kgs per adult and 2 kgs per child for a month, subject to a minimum of 12 Kgs and maximum of 20 kgs per month per card except Nilgiris District, where a minimum of 16 kgs and maximum of 24 kgs per card is distributed.
The state government which had earlier opposed the National Food Security Act, decided to implement it from 1 November last year.
This means additional requirement of food grains— “particularly rice is 85,000 metric tonnes per month over and above the regular allocation under NFSA norms," highlighted chief minister Palaniswami when he met the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, last month.
“I request that the additional quantity of 85,000 tonnes of rice per month required by Tamil Nadu may be made available at Rs8.30 per kg instead of Rs22.54 per kg (MSP rate)," said Palaniswami in a memorandum.