Bitter news for 2.5 million BPL families in Rajasthan: No more PDS sugar for them
As per the new directive, only ‘Antyodaya’ families — the poorest among the poor — would get subsidized sugar at ₹ 24.50 per kg from PDS shopsjaipur Updated: Jan 04, 2018 20:58 IST
This is one decision that has left a bitter taste in the mouth of 25 lakh below poverty line (BPL) families in Rajasthan. The Vasundhara Raje government has decided to stop distributing sugar to the BPL families under the pubic distribution system (PDS).
Deputy Commissioner in state food and civil supplies department, Anju Rajpal, issued a directive to all the district supply officers on December 22, 2017 asking them to stop providing subsidized sugar to the BPL families.
The decision has affected 25 lakh families — more than 1.26 lakh in Barmer district alone.
As per the officials, the move is in line with the Union government’s decision of not providing ₹18.50 per kg subsidy on sugar to states for selling it via ration shops from next fiscal. Under the existing scheme, states used to purchase sugar from open market at wholesale rate to be distributed through PDS shops at a subsidised rate of ₹ 13.50 per kg.
The Centre used to give a subsidy of ₹ 18.50 per kg to the states. While presenting the Union Budget 2017-18, the government had allocated only ₹ 200 crore to clear pending claims under the PDS sugar subsidy scheme.
The sugar subsidy, the Centre had said, was discontinued in view of all states rolling out the Food Law, under which there is no distinction of categories of beneficiaries as BPL.
Till March 2017, the Rajasthan was providing 500gm sugar to each member of BPL family under PDS. No subsidised sugar was sold from the PDS shops in the ongoing fiscal. The state government had earlier decided to clear the pending distribution of PDS sugar —from April till December — on quarterly basis. However, even before the same could be started, the new directive has been issued.
As per the new directive, only ‘Antyodaya’ families — the poorest among the poor —would get subsidized sugar. The directive also clarifies that nearly 6.76 lakh Antyodaya families in state can now procure sugar at ₹ 24.50 per kg from PDS shops.
Incidentally, before the Union Budget was presented last year, Union food minister Ram Vilas Paswan had written to finance minister Arun Jaitley urging him not to discontinue the subsidy scheme entirely and had proposed continuance of it for at least Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families.
Earlier, Centre had sounded out states that it would withdraw subsidy on sugar from next fiscal and they would have to bear the entire cost for selling the sweetener at a cheaper rates.
Criticizing the move, Opposition Congress alleged that it was a “suit-boot wali sarkar” in the state and “it always takes anti-poor decisions and betrays them”. Congress district vice-president Yagyadutt Joshi said the decision will put an additional financial burden on the poor. “The government should withdraw such anti-poor decisions,” he demanded.