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A shop fair in price and business

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A lesson in efficiency: The Annai Kasturba Arunthathiyar Magalir Munnetra Sangam managed fair price shop has helped Saminathapuram residents get public distribution system (ration) goods in the right quantity at the right time.
A lesson in efficiency: The Annai Kasturba Arunthathiyar Magalir Munnetra Sangam managed fair price shop has helped Saminathapuram residents get public distribution system (ration) goods in the right quantity at the right time.

Karthik Madhavan

The SHG-run PDS shop , however, remains a loss-making business

ERODE: Everything is unusual about the public distribution system (ration) shop in Saminathapuram, about 10 km from here.

The shop that caters to 209 families, all from below poverty line, sells PDS items at the right time and quantity and for doing so incurs loss.

Annai Kasturba Arunthathiyar Magalir Munnetra Sangam with support from SKM Sevai Maiyam manages the shop.

The shop’s customers, the 209 families, are beneficiaries of the State Government’s Re. 1-a-kg rice scheme and they purchase about 3,500 kg a month. They also buy 555 litres kerosene a month, 300 kg sugar, 200 kg wheat, 150 kg thoor dhal, 100 kg urad dhal, 150 litres palm oil, wheat flour and other items.

Shop attendant R. Thangamani says she procures the all items from the Government department concerned in Erode. She travels thrice in a month to Erode for the purchase.

The shop makes 45 paise profit from a kg of rice, 13 from sugar, 50 from wheat, Re. 1 from wheat flour, 50 paise from urad dhal, 30 paise from a litre of kerosene and 50 paise from a litre of palm oil.

With the profit the shop makes it spends on goods transport from Erode, loading and unloading, power, Ms. Thangamani’s salary and others. The attendant says the transportation works to Rs. 750 a month, loading and unloading around Rs. 100, her salary Rs. 2,000 and others another Rs. 200.

At the end of the month, the shop’s income and expenditure account always has a greater number under the expenditure column. It is so even after the shop sells the gunny bags it receives, Ms. Thangamani says. The Sangam-managed shop has been a loss-making business since its inception in 1999, but what keeps it going is the neighbouring shop it manages.

The neighbouring shop sells non-rationed items like toiletries, stationeries, snacks and groceries that are both covered and not covered under PDS. Quality rice, oil and other groceries are available at the other shop, the shop attendant says and adds that the profit therefrom evens out the loss from the PDS outlet. There is no profit, though. SKM Sevai Maiyam helped the dalit hamlet residents run a PDS outlet because the nearest outlet was four km away. Now the outlet is right in the village midst. The shop is open between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. with an hour’s lunch break.

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