Kerala is staring at a severe shortage of kerosene with the Centre drastically cutting allocation by nearly a half, Food and Civil Supplies Minister G.R. Anil has said. The move, along with the decision to discontinue the tide-over allocation of wheat, is bound to affect the public distribution system (PDS) in the State.
The State has received only 3,888 kilolitres of kerosene through PDS for the first quarter of the 2022-23 fiscal, while the Centre had released 6,480 kilolitres during the corresponding period last year to record a fall of 40% in allocation.
While the Centre had provided 25,920 kilolitres in 2021-22, the State is expected to receive only 13,520 kilolitres this year, Mr. Anil said while participating in a meet-the-press programme jointly organised by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists and Kesari Journalists Trust here on Thursday.
Currently, Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY-yellow card) and priority household (PHH-pink card) ration card holders receive 1 litre of kerosene every three months, while non-priority subsidy (NPS-blue card) and non-priority non-subsidy (NPNS-white card) ration card holders have been getting half-a-litre.
Price goes up
Making matters worse, the base rate of kerosene increased from ₹22.26 in April 2020 to ₹72.82 at present. The effective price of 1 litre of kerosene is nearly ₹84 with the application of Central Goods and Service Tax (CGST), State Goods and Service Tax (SGST) (both 2.5% each), transportation charges, dealer’s commission and retailer’s commission.
“We will be left with no option but to further reduce the quantities supplied due to the fall in allocation. Such decisions must be seen as attempts made by the Centre to destroy the PDS system in the State,” Mr. Anil said.
The Minister also said nearly 50 lakh ration card holders are likely to be denied ration wheat by way of the Centre’s decision to suspend the State’s tide-over allocation. As a result of the decision, the State will no longer receive the allocation of 6,459.074 tonnes of wheat that it has been receiving through the scheme that used to benefit non-priority sections.