GUWAHATI, March 27 � The State Government�s delay in expediting the Assam State Civil Supplies Corporation has badly hit sugar procurement under the public distribution system (PDS), with the fair-price shops not getting any supply since June last year.
The worst affected have been the common consumers who depend on PDS sugar.
The Centre had last year effected a major policy change in sugar procurement under which the Food Corporation of India (FCI) stopped lifting of sugar for the States, with the States allowed to procure PDS sugar on their own. Under the new arrangements, the States are to buy sugar from the open market through tendering and sell at a subsidised price through fair-price (ration) shops.�The move was aimed at making the States have their own efficient distribution machinery.
The developments caught Assam as well as other northeastern States on the wrong foot, as they have major problems in sugar procurement and storage due to transportation bottlenecks and inadequate infrastructure. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had announced setting up of a State Civil Supplies Corporation in August last year, but the exercise has been plagued by delays. The State Government�s request to the Centre to continue with the earlier system of supply of sugar under PDS through FCI for at least a year till the formation of the State Civil Supplies Corporation was also ignored by the Centre.
Assam, along with the rest of the northeastern States, had been using FCI�s services for storage and supply of PDS sugar from loading points to ration shops.
Sources in the State Food and Civil Supplies Department told The Assam Tribune that the situation was unlikely to change till the State Civil Supplies Corporation came up.
�We get a subsidy from the Centre for sugar procured under PDS, which is then sold at subsidized rates to consumers through the fair-price shops. The PDS sugar used to be routed through FCI but this has stopped following the Centre�s revised policy. Consequently, there has been no supply of sugar to Assam�s fair-price shops since June last year, and we can expect resumption of sale of sugar only after the Civil Supplies Corporation is set up,� sources said.
States get a subsidy of Rs 18.5 per kg from the Centre for sugar procured for PDS only when they sell it at Rs 13.5 per kg at ration shops.