Adding fuel to fire, people haven’t received subsidy

Mahipal Singh Yadav (31) is a contractual junior manager at the Kotkasim Gram Sewa Sahakari Samiti. Joining the cooperative, he had hoped, would be like any other job.

However, since the direct cash transfer of kerosene subsidies scheme was piloted here, Mr. Yadav has found himself at the receiving end of people’s anger.

The KGSSS operates five fair price shops (FPS) in the Kotkasim block. As the scheme came into effect, kerosene prices were hiked to Rs. 45 and then to Rs. 50 a litre from Rs. 15.

A lot of people had to buy kerosene at the increased prices, paying out of their pockets as no money was credited into their bank accounts for several months, says Mr. Yadav.

When they purchased kerosene, they had to register their bank details at the FPS from where these were sent to the District Supply Office.

“Beyond a point, people started getting restless. Since they had their bank accounts recorded at the FPS, they came to me asking for their money,” says Mr. Yadav, showing a list of 350 persons who have received subsidy only for three months ever since the scheme started and that too, in November.

“When we told the DSO office, they kept telling us the money would be credited soon.”

Soon, people stopped purchasing kerosene, he says. “When we told the officials about it, the DSO staff asked us to withhold other supplies until people bought kerosene,” says Mr. Yadav.

Suraj Bhan, president of the FPS dealers association, sees nothing wrong in withholding of other rations. Even in the absence of an instruction from the officials, the dealers would still have done so for, this is the only way they could sell the kerosene stock lying unsold, he says.