19,000 kg of rice distributed in Tiruchi district
It is just 10 days since the Rs. 20 a kg rice scheme was launched in the district. Over 19,000 kg of rice had been marketed through the 10 designated retail outlets in the city and in two other towns of Manapparai and Lalgudi. This is no mean achievement given that the scheme is implemented only through a limited number of outlets and indicates its success across the State. This is the second populist project of the Tamil Nadu government, after the Amma subsidised canteens, which has been widely appreciated by all sections of society.
The people of the State have been badly hit and are not able to meet sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities, in particular the food grains. To mitigate the sufferings of the people, the government came out with the idea of selling the rice in the open market in an effort to control food prices. It decided to make available about one lakh tonnes of rice throughout the State and 20,000 tonnes immediately.
Ten designated retail outlets were opened in the district, including eight in the city limits. While six were run by the Chinthamani Wholesale Stores at Puthur head office, Subramaniapuram branch, Tiruvanaikovil mall, Kailasapuram, National Institute of Technology-Tiruchi campus, and Teppakulam branch, three belonged to Amaravathi Wholesale store – Amaravathi head office near the Holy Cross College, Manapparai, and Lalgudi. The remaining one retail outlet is run by Ranganatha Store at Srirangam. The salient feature of this scheme is that it is open to all. Even those who do not have family cards can buy the commodity. Also, there is no restriction on the quantity to be bought.
Tiruchi district has been allotted 715 tonnes of rice for the implementation of this programme. The Department of Cooperation has lifted 38 tonnes, of this 19,045 kg had been sold. As and when required, the authorities would procure more quantity. This was yet another flagship scheme of the State government and had gone very well with the weaker sections and the middle income group, a cross section of the ruling party men claim. The project had evoked overwhelming response from all sections of society in a short span of 10 days, says Jayashree Muralidharan, District Collector.
Even the people from other parts of the district, where retail outlets have not been opened, visit the city to procure this rice. Because of demand from other major towns, the district administration has planned to open four more shops at Thuraiyur, Musiri, Manachanallur, and Thottiam, the Collector says.
These shops will be opened in the course of next week, she says and added that the district administration’s plan is to have at least one shop in each of the taluk headquarters, she adds. Even while the people of Tiruchi hail the scheme, some express apprehension that unscrupulous elements and peddlers in the black market may try to exploit it.
M. Selvaraj, a senior leader of the Communist Party of India (CPI), concedes that the scheme is populist and has been well received throughout the district and people favour its continuation. At present, the rice is available only in select designated shops and should be expanded to more shops.
Mr. Selvaraj suggests that the government should accord priority to the consumers holding “no-commodity card” and those who hold cards which fetched only sugar in the fair price shops. There should be some restriction in the provision of rice to individuals and the government could think of fixing ceiling. The government could consider making an entry in the ration card. Such steps will enable in checking unscrupulous elements in exploiting this project, he says.
Although many are aware about this scheme, thanks to the launching of the same with much fanfare, they have not procured the rice so far, as it is available only in a few retail outlets.
“People have to proceed to the designated shops for getting the rice. The government will be doing well, if this rice is provided in all the ration shops,” says S. Panchavarnam, a member of the Vidiyal Women’s Self-Help Group of Sangiliandapuram.
The Cooperation Department is strictly monitoring the implementation of this programme to check any malpractice. Two officials in the rank of deputy registrars have been nominated exclusively to monitor the functioning of these retail outlets, to ensure quality of rice, and the movement of rice from the godown to the retail outlet. Although rice up to 25 kg is provided to a consumer at a time, the same consumer is not allowed to get rice again and again.