December 4, 2019
Saugata Roy speaks about agitation by fair price shop dealers
Sir, there are more than 5 lakh fair-price shop dealers spread throughout the length and breadth of the country. The Fair-Price Shop Dealers’ Federation has announced a nationwide agitation to redress their grievances and they are having a continuous dharna at Jantar Mantar in Delhi from December 2.
Sir, they demand Rs 250 per quintal as margins for rice, wheat and sugar with a minimum guaranteed income of Rs 30,000 per month for their livelihood. There is a need to restore kerosene quota and appoint erstwhile kerosene dealers as LPG dealers, who have since lost their business on account of some States being declared as kerosene-free by the Government of India, so that their livelihood can be ensured. They have been living solely on kerosene retail business.
Frequent increase of retail prices of kerosene is forcing the general public to buy the same from open market. This reduces the income of the fair-price shop dealers. The government has to ensure sufficient supply of pulses and edible oil at Rs 20 per kg and iodised salt at Rs 5 per kg less than market prices to arrest the exorbitant hike in the open market price.
The government’s move to privatise PDS will cause exploitation, unemployment and further disaster to the FPS dealers and common people, including the loss of business to FPS dealers and hunger to them and their families. The proposed concept of the Government of India to have ‘One Nation, One Card’ will create serious operational complications for many states like West Bengal, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu, which are making subsidised distribution from their state exchequer beyond the National Food Security Act.
The failure of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), especially in some States, is also causing a lot of problems to the smooth functioning of the Public Distribution System. The government must intervene in this matter and take corrective steps to redress the grievances of fair-price shop dealers and to improve the PDS system.
I appeal to the Food Minister to look into this matter. Thank you.