Cabinet allowed to raise price of ration: Zulfkar

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Jan 31:  Minister for Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs Ch Zulfkar today claimed that Government was facing a burden of Rs 411 crore on account of subsidized ration and his department has increased the rates of atta and rice for 45 lakh NPHH category people after a Cabinet decision.
Replying to the question of BJP member Ashok Khajuria in the Upper House today, Ch Zulfkar said that he has not increased rates for the PHH/ BPL-AAY category households whose number is around 74 lakh in the State. A hike of Rs 5 per kg for atta and rice has been given in case of Non Priority House Hold Category. He also claimed that it was decided by the State Cabinet last year.
The minister claimed that department makes purchases worth Rs 1200 crore annually and cash receipts amount comes out to just around Rs 800 crore. Still there was shortfall of Rs 411 crore. To overcome this, the rates have been increased. When asked why this burden was exerted on 45 lakh NPHH category to provide ration at the rate of Rs 2 and 3 per kg to other 74 lakh people, the minister did not give the satisfactory reply. He only said NPHH people are well off enough to shoulder the burden. Even some states are not giving ration to the members of this category and they are purchasing from open market.
Giving reply to the main question, the Minister said that 8,58,817 new ration cards under the ambit of National Food Security Act (NFSA) have been distributed in the State so far. He said that the fidelity check is going on and cards would be given in all remaining areas once the task is completed. He said the concerned functionaries have been directed to expedite the fidelity check to ensure early distribution of ration cards.
The minister said Government has not enhanced rates of ration for AAY, BPL and PHH categories as they will continue to get rice and atta at Rs 3 per kilogram. He said the rates have been enhanced for Non Priority Household (NPHH) category from Rs 10 to Rs 15 for rice and Rs 8 to Rs 13 for atta with effect from October, 2016. He, however said that the rate of sugar has not been enhanced.
Responding to the supplementaries of Legislators Khursheed Alam and Jugal Kishore, Minister said that rates were enhanced to mitigate the deficit faced by the department while procuring the food-grains. He said   at present 7000 food-grain shops are functioning in the State adding that more Fair Price Shops would be set up for convenience of the consumers in the State.
The Minister said that three months advance ration is being stocked in all areas of the State so that the consumers would not face any difficulty while getting their ration quota at their sale depots. He said the shortage of food grains in some areas of Reasi district would be looked into on priority.