FAIR PRICE SHOPS, UNFAIR CLOSURES!!

FAIR PRICE SHOPS, UNFAIR CLOSURES!!

Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation procures rice and other essential commodities required for public distribution system from Food Corporation of India and through tenders. Distribution of commodities through fair price shops is being carried out by Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation and the Cooperative societies.

FAIR PRICE SHOPS

The Public Distribution System is implemented through 33,222(subject to closures it may vary) fair price shops functioning under the various agencies are as follows: -

Sl.No

Agency

Full-Time

Part-Time

Total

1

Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation

1,178

277

1,455

2

Cooperatives (Under R.C.S)

23,727

9,100

32,827

3

Other Co-operatives

314

162

476

4

Women fair price shops, including Self Help Groups

370

41

411

TOTAL

25,589

9580

35,169

(courtesy PDS website)

Fair price shops were started only to cater to the lower and middle income groups to buy their basic provisions, instead of buying them from privately owned shops which are pricey and economics (demand and supply) driven. There are about 32,546 (reported as per June 2018) now 32,827 reported (subject to variance) ration shops, altogether run by primary agrarian lending society. As the commission paid towards the ration edibles are less, in order to pay rent, employees’ salaries, electricity bills the State Government grants money every year for their sustainability which is about 400 crores. But from 2011 about 30% to 40% of this was only granted every year.  Statistics say for the past 6 years the grant allocated was only 882.93 crores leaving an unpaid grant of 540 crores. For the year 2017-18 no grant was allocated. Since the arrears were not granted the co-operative society are finding it difficult to run these fair price shops.

The primary agrarian co-operative societies have voiced their grievance, that, this situation has arisen by not granting and paying the full grant amount for the past 5 years, no discounting of loans and the employees’ salaries remain unpaid till date.  Outstanding of grant arrears has reached a high of 1000 crores which has led to closure of these co-operative fair price shops and warning signals have set in. If the grant doesn’t reach them on time this year too, there is a definite threat for closure of these fair price ration shops, which would not really help the poor and needy and the very purpose is defeated.  The State Government’s financial support and intervention is immediate and imperative.

-Vijayashree Ramesh

The wrtier is an advocate based at Chennai