The city will soon have mobile fair price shops to help residents procure commodities through the public distribution system without any hassles.

Announcing this in the Assembly on Monday, minister for cooperation Sellur K. Raju said two vehicles worth a total of Rs. 26.60 lakh would be provided to the Triplicane Urban Cooperative Society (TUCS) and Park Town Cooperative Wholesale Stores. These vehicles would be used to distribute commodities at the doorsteps of residents.

On an average, each fair price shop must cover not more than 1,600 family card-holders. But several shops run by co-operatives are serving more than 2,500-3,000 family card-holders.

Sources said over 30 fair price shops run by TUCS need to be bifurcated to prevent overcrowding and delay in procuring goods. Co-operative societies face difficulties in identifying buildings to house ration shops. In a bid to better serve consumers, the mobile fair price shops might be used to cover streets located at a distance from existing shops. This would defer the need to bifurcate the ration shops.

The infrastructure in the city’s two cold storage facilities at Koyambedu and Basin Bridge with a total capacity of 3,225 metric tonnes, would also be improved, the minister said. The State government has allocated Rs. 3.94 crore to upgrade the infrastructure.

Sources said the facilities run by Tamil Nadu Co-operative Marketing Federation are used to store fruits and vegetables in Koyambedu, and dairy products and peas at Basin Bridge. Besides problems faced in storing various products at different temperature levels, there is also seepage during rains. The first phase of modernisation, including installation of lifts for goods and material handling, has been completed at Koyambedu.

Food minister R. Kamaraj said the State government has allotted Rs. 2.62 crore to construct shops that would be owned by 25 fair price shops across the city.

Finding a rented accommodation of a suitable size has become an expensive affair. At present, there are 981 co-operative societies’ ration shops and 437 run by Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation. Sources said of those run by co-operative societies, nearly 520 are those of TUCS and Park Town Cooperative Wholesale Stores.

Mr. Kamaraj also announced elevators would be provided at State and district consumer redressal forums (Chennai north and Chennai south) at a cost of Rs. 16 lakh.

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