Huge quantities of stock being routinely seized from middle-men
How much of food grain supplied under the Public Distribution System (PDS) is actually being consumed by white-card holders? Does the scheme truly satisfy its beneficiaries? While the answers are elusive, the fact remains that large quantities of stock are being sold illegally.
Statistics provided by the Vigilance & Enforcement (V&E) Department show that huge quantities of stock are routinely being seized from middle-men, who are involved in illegal sale of PDS food grain. According to V&E officials, PDS edibles are finding their way to brokers, who, in turn, sell them to rice-mills and small eateries. The truth is that almost 80 per cent of the PDS supply in the State is sold away by beneficiaries to middle-men.
Data provided by V&E officials show that between July and November, 2013, as many as 631 inspections were conducted in the State, during which 52,062 quintals of paddy, 87,807 litres of edible oil, 55,482 litres of kerosene, 13,737 quintals or rice, 17,055 quintals of super fine rice, 2,773 packets of wheat, 2,348 packets of flour and 2,600 quintals of sugar were seized from middlemen. During the same period, 447 cases were booked under the Essential Commodities Act, and 80 under the IPC.
“Since the food grain is of low quality, many white-card holders sell their quota of stock at higher prices to brokers in rural areas. After collecting a substantial quantity of stock, they sell it to rice mills, which, in turn, polish and re-sell it in the open market,” said a senior V&E official, requesting anonymity.
Another official said that in urban areas, PDS food materials were being sold to small eateries, which use them to sell low-priced eatables.
“Also, seizing such illegal stock is hard. Unless the materials are packed in marked bags, we can’t ascertain whether they are PDS are or not. If brokers change the bags, then there is no way of knowing whether it is subsidized stock or not,” pointed out an official.
Even if the FPS owners sell PDS stock illegally, the only way of knowing is if a variation is found in their records, he added.