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More chaff, less wheat on PDS plate

india Updated: Jan 06, 2011 02:56 IST
Prasad Nichenametla

Thirty-year-old Santa Meena, a tribal woman of Saru panchayat is probably unaware that a panel headed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the Manmohan Singh-led government are struggling to arrive at the quantity of grain that BPL families should get under the Public Distribution System.

All this mother of five knows is that she has to trudge 10 km from her hamlet to the ration shop in Saru (10 km from the Udaipur-Ahmedabad Expressway) to collect the monthly family allocation of 25 kg wheat.

And at least a quarter of the bagful she has collected at Rs 2 per kg is chaff, stones, coal pieces and other waste.

"The grain needs thorough cleaning, which takes away about 10 kg..." says Santa. Santa says the grains serve them at most for a week.

"For the rest of the month we have to buy from the open market at Rs 15 to Rs 20 per kg," says another villager Pokar Lal. And if the maize crop - which provides subsistence - does not yield good harvest, they even have to take loans to buy grains.

That is not all. Villagers explain how they get ration only once in two or three months, as the ration is supplied "under rotation system".

"The ration dealer tells us the supply is not enough…" says Govind Meena (30), another tribal from here.

In Rajasthan, grains from FCI go to Fair Price Shop (FPS) through dealers - individual contractors or cooperative societies.

The state holds a 'consumer week' from the 15th to 21st of every month when ration is supplied in presence of a panchayat official.

But shops that are actually monitored like a FPS in Pal Deval about 30 km away in adjacent Dungarpur district, get better grains.

"Some times the quality is bad and sometimes the quantity is low, we supply what we receive," says Shankar Lal Meena, an FPS dealer in Saru. "...It could be the grains at the bottom that got mixed with waste," says RS Shekawat, Udaipur district supplies officer.

Village sarpanch Harish Meena says complaints to the officials in the monthly panchayat meetings went unheard.

Kavita Srivastava, convener, steering group of the Right to Food Campaign says people in several parts had to agitate for good quality grains.

"...The government should address this issue by making right to redressal of grievances (related to food grains) part of proposed Right to Food Act..."

Food facts