Ration depots go dry as CAPD fails to ensure essential supplies

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, Mar 11: The ration depots in the State have gone dry and the consumers are left to face severe crisis as the CAPD department has failed to ensure supply of ration and levy sugar to them.
Not only in Kashmir province, in Jammu region also the public is out on the roads and streets to lodge protest against the State administration and the CAPD authorities for their utter failure to supply ration and also against the National Food Security Act in the State. The public is opposing the hasty implementation of the NFSA alleging that their ration scale has been reduced.
While in Jammu city, the CAPD authorities have failed to supply atta, rice and levy sugar during February, but in March too, it has failed to ensure supply till today. The ration dealers of Jammu city alleged that they deposited money for the ration during first week of February but till date, they have not received supply of last month. “For the month of March, the concerned TSOs are not accepting money. There is total chaos and the officers at the helm of affairs have failed to tackle the situation,” they alleged.
In next two days, first half of this month will also be over, but the CAPD authorities have failed to supply even a single bag of ‘Atta’ (flour), rice or even the levy sugar to the consumers in Jammu while the supply condition in Kashmir region is also said to be the same. Worst is the condition in the hilly and mountainous areas of Kathua, Udhampur, Reasi, Rajouri, Poonch, Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar districts where the general public is mainly dependent on the food grains supplied by the CAPD department authorities. Public has no option except for lodging protests.
There is massive opposition of NFSA in the State as the people in some areas are being offered 3 kg of wheat and 2 kg of rice per soul. The sugar quota has been reduced to 500 gms per soul from the old existing scale of 700 gms per soul. The people of Kathua and Samba towns where wheat supply was offered under NFSA by the department recently, have refused to lift the same on the plea that it was too, meager and they are unable to go for grinding this little corn and search for the Atta Chakkis as there are already very few in the towns. They demanded that Atta be supplied to them and scale should also be increased. In Jammu city too, the people are strongly opposing supply of wheat on the plea that there are no enough ‘Atta Chakkis’.
For the last seven months now, the public is facing crisis as no levy sugar is being provided. It was offered only once or maximum twice in few districts during last seven months. The Govt failed to ensure regular supply of sugar and finalized re-tenders. In November 2015 CAPD finalised tender for just three months and again called fresh tenders in first week of January.
February 4, 2016 was fixed as the tender opening date. But the officers at the helm of affairs failed to finalise the tenders. It indicated that again in March the people will go without sugar. Sources disclosed that vested interests in the department, have developed self created crisis as they are much concerned about their own welfare than the general public of the State, as commission worth crores is involved in this game.
This “callous approach” of the CAPD authorities has left the J&K consumers high and dry and they have to mainly depend on the ration to be purchased in black from the open market. The ration dealers in urban as well as semi-urban and rural areas are generally complaining that concerned officers are not providing them full allotted quota of ration. This has given rise to the clashes with consumers. They further alleged that even the pending quota of nearly 4500 quintals of Jammu city has not been cleared.
Now, there is no supply at all despite the fact that they have deposited advance money with the Department.
Sources in the department said that the CAPD department is getting one month advance supply of wheat and rice from Food Corporation of India but they are unable to clear the backlog of the dealers thus creating huge gap. The FCI does not provide them ration till 10th of every month on the plea that they are already providing one month advance ration to CAPD in J&K. The CAPD authorities are collecting advance money for the ration from the dealers but keeping pendency of at least one month without any reason. This mess created in the department has badly affected the smooth supply position in the State.
Sources further said that the purchase committee of the CAPD department last time failed to finalise the rate of the levy sugar and long time was wasted in the negotiation process with the millers from outside the State from whom the CAPD would lift sugar quota. While the sugar was easily available in the open market at the rate of Rs 30 per kilogram, the miller whose tender was found to be lowest had quoted the rate of around Rs 39.50 per kg. Since the rate of the sugar supply to the J&K by all the seven national competitors had quoted above Rs 39.50 per kilogram, the State level purchase committee had a few rounds of talks to bring it down. This delay in the process has affected the supply of levy sugar quota to the consumers in J&K for several months.
Director CAPD Jammu, G S Chib when contacted said that this problem has been faced because department is switching over to new system of NFSA from the old one. He said it will take some time to make the system smooth. Chib further said that Jammu city has been badly hit but in many rural areas they have made supplies. He claimed that 1,40,000 quintals of food grain supply is being ensured to many areas. The director also pleaded that strike by the CAPD workers/ labourers is yet another reason behind the non-supply.
When asked that workers are on strike for the last 11 days while, no supply was maintained during whole month of February, Chib had no convincing reply except introduction of new Act. When asked why wheat is being supplied in cities and towns instead of Atta, the Director said he has sent the proposal to the higher authorities as the people have opposed it.
Regarding non-supply of levy sugar since long and delay of about three months in finalizing tender for the same, Chib said that a purchase committee has been framed for the purpose and only chairman (Commissioner CAPD) is the competent person who can reply. He, however, indicated that it will be finalized shortly but not promised supply of sugar during March to the public.