No sugar for PDS outlets

NEW DELHI, NOV. 15. More than 23 lakh-odd ration card holders, entitled to draw sugar from the Public Distribution System (PDS) outlets, have been left high and dry as the Delhi Government has failed to release the sugar quota for November forcing the poor to buy in the open market.

Owners of PDS outlets said they were still awaiting official word on release of sugar quota for this month. On the other hand, officials in the Food and Supplies Department maintained that they had not received the supply from the Central pool for November. ``It is learnt that the Central Government is procuring sugar from Maharashtra for supply in the Capital. It will take some time for the sugar to reach Delhi", a senior official remarked.

While consumers people have been lining up at PDS outlets, they have to return dejected with ``No Sugar'' boards is staring them. The poor and the weaker sections, who depend on the PDS outlets have been forced to buy in the open market. ``We have been flooded with enquiries about the availability of sugar. There is no firm answer from the Food and Supplies Department. People suspect we are hoarding sugar when the fact is that it is not just available,'' said a PDS owner of Pitampura.

Officials are of the view that any further delay in release of sugar quota by the Centre would result in hoarding and diversion to the open market. As the people will resort to buying from the open market, the quota, when released, would be gobbled up by unscrupulous PDS outlet owners and sold in the black. While the sugar is sold at Rs. 18 per kg in the open market, against Rs. 12 in the PDS.

In fact, it is only sugar that people are buying from the PDS, as the rates of other commodities -- wheat and rice -- are higher in the PDS compared to the open market. Reports indicate that ration card holders have stopped lifting rice and wheat from the PDS shops.

For its part, the Government has maintained a studded silence and has failed to apprise the people about the real facts. There is no word about the delay in the release of sugar. Not only this, it has also failed to lodge a protest with the Centre over the unnecessary delay.