The Delhi government has turned down the Justice Wadhwa Committee's suggestion to replace Fair Price Shops (FPS) run by private individuals with state level corporation outlets to disburse food grains under the Public Distribution System (PDS).
In an affidavit before the Supreme Court, the government said there was no financial viability in running such shops. Besides, it said, the proposal would entail huge expenditure. State-run FPS had already been experimented with and such a system wasn't found feasible, the government told SC.
The Justice Wadhwa committee had recommended phasing out of shops run by private individuals in view of complaints and inconvenience to beneficiaries. It said state run FPS will follow rules and regulations and there would hardly be any complaints such as non-opening of shops on time, opening of shops only once a week, non-maintenance of records, cheating on quality and quantity, charging of higher price or attitude of salesmen.
In response to the suggestions, Ravi Dadhich, additional secretary, department of food and supplies, Delhi, said in the affidavit that two of the 2,477 FPSs in the Capital were at present being run by the Delhi State Civil Supply Corporation (DSCSC). Earlier the corporation was running 8 FPSs but it was compelled to close these shops in 2009-10 as DSCSC incurred heavy losses.
The shops suffered losses despite selling grocery/kirana items along with food grains under the PDS and "hence these activities were closed by the DSCSC". The shops suffered losses because of day-to-day variation in prices and the heavy salary burden of regular employees.
On the huge expenditure, he said it would involve recruitment of huge manpower to man supply chain running FPSs, renting or purchasing shops at different locations and purchase of trucks.
Taking note of diversion of PDS wheat, Justice Wadhwa committee had recommended supply of fortified wheat flour instead of wheat but this has also been rejected by the state government.