It has resulted in seizure of 3,000 bogus family cards, suspension of nine salesmen

It is just like a routine inspection of fair price shops but with a difference.

Till recently, the practice was officials would inform the salesmen about their proposed inspection and salesmen, in turn, would keep the house in order to obtain a clean chit. But under the new system, special teams, formed by the Food and Civil Supplies Department, would carry out their task well before the scheduled inspection by regular teams.

The regular teams were also given only a couple of hours notice to carry out the inspection, thus surprising the officials and the salesmen. Even district Collectors were informed about the Minister’s review meeting just a day in advance.

The new initiative has resulted in the seizure of 3,000 bogus family cards, suspension of nine salesmen and reduction in rice off-take by 64,000 tonnes.

The department is also able to identify and resolve problems such as delayed opening or early closure of shops, non-availability of stocks, rude behaviour of salesmen, poor quality of commodities and non-functioning of electronic weighing machines, which remained uncovered by the regular teams, an official said.

In the last three weeks, the special teams had covered Tiruchi, Ariyalur, Perambalur, Namakkal, Karur, Theni, Dindigul, Coimbatore, Ramanathapuram and Villupuram districts.

The brief given to them was to scrutinise documents of those fair price shops that had recorded rice off-take in the range of 90 to 99 per cent, besides examining shop registers and other records regarding stock position of various commodities; movement of stocks from godowns to outlets.

Talking of the impact of the latest initiative, the official said invariably reports presented by the salesmen and the special teams varied with each other. As a follow-up, the department was able to bring down the off-take to some extent. Vehicles used for smuggling of rice had been seized.

In one case, 400 bogus cards had been recovered from a salesman of a shop that has a total of 982 family cards.

The Department had instructed its officials to inspect at least two outlets every day so that all the 31,388 shops in the State could be covered in six months.

Besides, the State Consumer Helpline has started functioning again and this facility was available during working days, he said.

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