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Steady increase in sale of rice in fair price shops

S. Vydhianathan

Improvement in quality, more ration cards cited as reason


  • Sale touched a record 2.85 lakh tonnes in September
  • Only 45,000 families have agreed to forego their rations
  • No shortage and the State's rice stock will last two months

    CHENNAI: Sale of rice in fair price shops in the State has recorded a steady increase in the last three months.

    It was 2.13 lakh tonnes in July, 2.38 lakh tonnes in August and touched a record 2.85 lakh tonnes in September. The sale was less than two lakh tonnes during this time last year.

    Officials attribute the phenomenon to increase in number of ration cards, improvement in quality of rice, withdrawal of kerosene option for cardholders and scrapping of the rice coupon system.

    Earlier, ration shop owners had to submit coupons for the rice sold. Now they only have to produce bills. Almost all shops had availed of their quota. There is also a possibility of the stock being diverted to the open market as the minimum price of rice in the market is Rs. 10 a kg against Rs. 3.50 in ration shops.

    185-lakh ration cards

    As many as 185-lakh ration cards have been distributed in the State. Of these, 174 lakh are rice cards and the rest, sugar or `no-ration' cards. Officials said 45,000 families had agreed to forego their rations.

    Subsidy burden

    The monthly allotment from the Central pool to the State is 1.18 lakh tonnes in the below poverty line (BPL) category (Rs. 5.65 a kg) and 52,000 tonnes under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana scheme (Rs. 3 a kg).

    Last month it had to lift nearly one lakh tonnes from its above poverty line (APL) quota at Rs. 8.30 a kg to meet the requirement.

    No shortage

    As the sale price at a PDS outlet is only Rs. 3.50 a kg irrespective of the family's income, the State's subsidy burden has increased substantially in the last two months, sources said.

    But there is no shortage and there stocks to last two months. The Government, the sources said, was not worried about the increase in the subsidy burden as it wanted to maintain uninterrupted supply.

    It had instructed the Civil Supplies Department to ensure quality.

    The sources rule out a price hike in the near future as Assembly elections are not far off.

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