Will the authorities ensure that the beneficiaries of the recently launched ‘Amma Hastham’ scheme get correct quantity of essential commodities?

Doubts are being raised over this issue in view of the dubious distinction of the traders manning the ration shops in under weighing the commodities supplied to people below poverty line segment at subsidised prices. In the newly launched scheme, nine essential commodities are to be supplied in one pack through ration shops.

Going by the records of Legal Metrology Department, ration shop owners are taking consumers for a ride by tampering electronic weighing machines (EWMs). As many as 2,563 cases were registered against the errant shop owners in last one year for indulging in short-measurement. The government channelizes public distribution system (PDS) across the State through over 50,000 ration shops, also known as ‘fair price shops’. There are 857 of them in the city. A white cardholder can buy 20 kg rice through ration shops for one rupee per kg and four litres of kerosene in urban and one-and-a-half litres in rural areas for Rs.15. However, during raids conducted at several such shops, officials found a discrepancy of at least two kg while weighing 20 kg rice through EWM.

The raids were carried out under the supervision of Additional Director-General of Police and Controller R.P. Thakur. Each shop caters 500 to 1,000 cardholders and if two kg rice is saved in each issue, the quantity of rice being saved can only be imagined. This rice would later be sold in open market for Rs.30 to Rs.35 per kg, a senior official explained.

Assistant Controller (Flying Squad) K. Bhaskar explained that some EWMs come with a facility to tamper the readings, rendering injustice to cardholders.

Similar is the case with kerosene. Through faulty conical measurements, shop keepers were delivering at least half litre less in each delivery. The saved kerosene would find its way to fuel-filling stations in districts for adulterating petrol. “We booked cases against shop owners under Legal Metrology Act and compounding fee was also collected from them,” Mr. Bhaskar said.

Rules stipulate that shopkeepers should maintain standard weights to re-check the weight of rice, but a majority of them fail to adhere to it, he added. When contacted, Ration Shop Dealers’ Welfare Association president N. Raju refuted the charges of short measurement and said people would not spare them if they indulge in such practices.

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