The Special Public Distribution System, covering the supply of commodities such as toor dhal, urid dhal and palmolein, is being trimmed. Rava and maida will not be supplied once the available stocks of the commodities are exhausted. Alternatively, emphasis will be given to supplying fortified atta.

The Special PDS was launched in the State on April 14, 2007.

The government has decided to keep the prices of toor dhal and urid dhal at Rs. 40 a kg. Till the end of October, the prices were Rs. 32 and Rs. 36 respectively. The new rates came into force on Sunday.

The market prices of the dhal varieties are on the rise since June. Of late, the government has found the scheme unsustainable at the old rates. The commodities, procured by the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation from the domestic and international markets, are being supplied at subsidised rates.

Before the increase in the prices of the dhal varieties, the per kg average cost of toor dhal was Rs.55, and of urid dhal, Rs. 50.

This was why the authorities had fixed the rates of the two varieties at Rs. 32 and Rs. 36 respectively. Now, even the average rates of toor dhal and urid dhal are Rs. 82 and Rs. 71. They are expected to remain so for at least three more months.

As a substitute for toor dhal, the authorities have of late been procuring Canadian yellow lentil and supplying it under the Special PDS.

The average cost of this commodity is Rs. 55 a kg. So far 15,000 tonnes have been procured.

Orders for 25,000 tonnes more have been placed and this includes what is sought to be imported by the Civil Supplies Corporation directly.

In 2007-2008 and 2008-2009, the government incurred Rs. 250 crore each on account of the Special PDS. This year the subsidy quantum will be Rs. 500 crore.

An official explains that the burden on the government would have been less if the procurement of the commodities had been done through the Central public sector undertakings. But the perception of the State government is that Central PSUs do not seem to share the sense of urgency the State government displays.

Giving the example of urid dhal, the official says the State government has got only 3,000 tonnes from a Central agency over the last one year against the monthly requirement of 12,000 tonnes.

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