JAMMU, Jan 23: It may sound amazing to many but it is true that 74.13 lakh (63%) `poor people’ (AAY, BPL) in the State, out of total population of 125 lakh (1.25 cr) are getting wheat at the rate of Rs 2 and rice at the rate of Rs 3 per kg in the Jammu and Kashmir State.
In the State where the population of the Below Poverty Line (BPL) people had been projected as nearly 23 % by the CAPD Department few years back and just 4-5 % poorest of the poorer, today the figures have been swollen to 63 % in the J&K state which actually fall in BPL and under new scheme PHH category. These disclosures were made by the Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department Ch Zulfkar during a reply to the questions of BJP member Ramesh Arora and PDP member Yasir Reshi in the Upper House.
The Minister had to face very pointed questions from the Coalition as well as Opposition members over the issue of ration supplies in the State. Arora alleged that Minister for CAPD in his recently published book with his photograph showing his achievements has mentioned that Govt is providing ration to 1.41 crore people in the State while in Governor’s address it has been shown that population of the State is 1.25 crore and 1.19 crore souls have been covered under National Food Security Act. The Minister should clarify which figure is correct. And if , they are procuring ration for 1.41 crore where is the excess ration going ? Will the Govt bring white paper on it?
Arora alleged that private ration dealers in Jammu have not been paid their commission by the department for the last 10 months. As per rules, they should get 14 % but Department is offering them just 5 % which is unjustified. He alleged that no audit of the department was conducted in last many years and Government must give reply whether they intend to do it. Arora asked when Govt has not sufficient go downs for the sufficient storage of just ration for one month then why they are dumping ration for three months and also with the dealers.
Congress member Jugal Kishore Sharma asked why sugar supply has been stopped to the people specially in district Reasi for the last three months and whether Govt intends to supply sugar to the public in near future. PDP members Javed Mirchal and Yasir Reshi also raised pointed supplementaries and project massive discrepancies in the BPL/ PHH lists. They also sought outcome of the foodgrain scandals which hit headlines of the newspapers in the State in the recent past. Dr Shahnaz Ganai asked what made the Govt to raise prices of rice and atta to Rs 15 and 13 per kg for 45 lakh population of the State when Govt is getting at the old rates from the Food Corporation of India ?
Referring to the irregularities in the lists, the minister claimed that the lists have been uploaded and made public through National Portal ( pdsportal.nic.in) as well as State departmental website (jkcapd.nic.in) and have even been pasted on concerned Govt sales depots/FPSs for getting the feed back from the general public and from the rationees. Besides, the fidelity check is being conducted by the respective Assistant Directors / Deputy Commissioners. Under NFSA, there are three categories that is PHH ( priority House Hold) , NPHH (Non Priority HH) and exclusion. The erstwhile AAY and BPL families have been shifted to PHH category. Besides this, households having meager monthly income, houseless and landless, weaker sections, nomadic population has also been covered in the same group.
Replying to another question, he claimed that 74.13 lakh people have been covered under this PHH category and Govt has exerted no extra burden on them. They are getting ration at the rate of Rs 3 and Rs 2 per kg whereas, 45 lakh population has been covered under NPHH and rate of rice has been hiked to Rs 15 per kg and atta for Rs 13 per kg for them. They can afford to pay and there was no much hue and cry after hike in the rates. Under MMSFES, additional ration is being provided to the people at the hiked rates. He also claimed that 4388 new ration depots are being opened in the State shortly.
While responding to question of Arora, Minister said that department would go for audit shortly and commission of the ration depot holders will also be cleared shortly. He said Central Govt was providing ration as per the projected population of 2000 and there was huge gap between the demand and the supply. However, the scale was maintained at Rs 35 kg to BPL/AAY category. He also claimed that new ration cards are being provided to the consumers and the process will be completed shortly. The Govt has also proposed to provide ration under NFSA/ MMSFES to the consumers for three months in one go.
Responding to the issue of non-supply of sugar in the State, the Minister said that new tenders for the supply of sugar to the State have not been finalized. As and when they are finalized, the sugar will be supplied to people. He said 1.19 core people have been covered under NFSA in the State out of which 74.13 lakh are being provided ration on highly subsidized rates of Rs 2 and 3 per kg while under MMSFES, the rate is Rs 13 and 15 per kg for atta and rice.