Govt stops subsidized sugar supply to 74 lakh PHH/BPL consumers

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, Dec 18: The Governor’s Administration has stopped the supply of subsidized sugar through Food, Civil, Supplies and Consumer Affairs department to about 74 lakh Priority House Hold (PHH)/ BPL category consumers in the State.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the decision to this effect was taken in the Planning Committee meeting of the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumers Affairs (FCS&CA) Department held few days ago under Principal Secretary Finance, Naveen Kumar Choudhary.
He said no provision in the new budget has been kept for the purchase of levy sugar for the State consumers. Therefore, the BPL/PHH and AAY category consumers in the State will not get subsidized sugar from January, 2019.
Not only this, the State administration has also stopped the Mufti Mohammed Sayeed Food Entitlement Scheme from the new year. With this, the ration (Atta/rice) quota to the J&K consumers has been considerably reduced and they will get ration as prescribed under National Food Security Scheme (NFSS), which is not sufficient per house hold for both the categories (PHH/NPHH).
Sources revealed that previous BJP-PDP Government had stopped the subsidized sugar quota to about 45 lakh NPHH category consumers during July, 2017 on the pretext that Centre had stopped the subsidy and the State due to financial constraints was not able to bear the burden. The rate of the levy sugar was also increased from Rs 13.50 per kilogram to Rs 25 per kg. Even the rate of the Atta was also almost doubled for the NPHH category and rice was given 50 % hike.
The FCS&CA Department has about 1.19 crore registered consumers in the State. It was projected that State was bearing the loss of about Rs 40 crore annually with the provision of levy sugar after the Centre stopped subsidy last year. In Jammu province, about 16043 quintal levy sugar was being provided every month while in Kashmir the quota was about 20,000 quintals including Ladakh. Prior to the implementation of National Food Security Act, the levy sugar quota of the State was 84,000 MT, the sources maintained.
Sources further said since provision of ration under NFSS was considerably reduced in the State, there was massive hue and cry every where in the State and also in the Legislature over it. The previous Government for providing additional ration to the consumers, introduced Mufti Mohd Sayeed Food Entitlement Scheme. But since now this scheme has also been stopped, the State consumers will now be deprived of additional ration under the said scheme. This decision of the Government may give rise to the anger of about 1.19 crore FCS&CA consumers in the State.
Secretary, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Dr Abdul Rashid admitted before the media having taken this decision by the State administration and said that due to financial constraints the subsidized sugar is being stopped to the consumers. He said kerosene oil quota to the State has already been reduced by the Union Government by 40 %. He however, maintained that public will continue to get Atta and rice as per the scale under NFSS.
Director FCS&CA CAPD, Jammu, Amit Sharma when contacted said that matter with regard to stoppage of subsidized sugar quota to PHH category was discussed in the meeting held recently with the Principal Secretary Finance but a formal order in this regard is yet awaited.
Another senior officer in the FCS&CA Department on the condition of anonymity disclosed that they have received instructions from the top to stop supply of subsidized sugar from January 2019. The concerned officers have been directed to dry their stores and liquidate the stock if they have any with them. He said no provision in the Budget has been kept for the levy sugar this time, therefore, the department is unable to maintain supply of subsidized sugar to the public.