BHAWANIPATNA: The revamped public distribution system (PDS) has already been implemented in Kalahandi. Even as the new system aims at curbing pilferage in the PDS, questions are being raised over its effective implementation.
Last year, the State Government had decided to do away with the storage-agent system from October 1 and replace it with a new arrangement following the Justice D P Wadhwa Committee report.
The government wanted to streamline and restructure the PDS. Under this new arrangement, rice procurement centres located all over the State would be converted into departmental storage centres from where rice, wheat and sugar will be directly supplied to the fair price shops.
Earlier this month, tenders were finalised for appointment of transportation agencies in all the 13 blocks and the Bhawanipatna Municipality which would ferry the commodities to fair price shops.
However, doubts have been raised at the low prices for which the agencies were granted the tenders.
Sources said the transportation agencies appointed in five blocks of Dharamgarh sub-division - Dharamgarh, Junagarh, Golamunda, Kalampur and Jaipatna - had quoted rates which are neither economical nor practical.
The agency appointed for Junagarh block had quoted Rs 4.50 per quintal of rice or wheat to be transported from the block godown to the panchayat point. Thus, for one truck load of commodities - considering an average of 130 bags - the agency will get just Rs 585. Many of the gram panchayat points from the block headquarters are at a distance of 15 to 22 km, sources added.
Similarly, the Dharamgarh transportation agency quoted Rs 7, Golamunda Rs 6, Koksara Rs 6.30, and the agency concerned for Kalampur quoted Rs 6 for transportation of one quintal of grains. The agency for Lanjigarh quoted Rs 23 per quintal, Karlamunda Rs 22, Kesinga block/NAC Rs 18.7, M Rampur Rs 12.5, Bhawanipatna block Rs 25.2 and the agency for Bhawanipatna Municipality quoted Rs 9 for transportation of one quintal of grains.
Sources said considering the high cost of the diesel at Rs 44.67 per litre and rising cost of labour, the rates quoted by various transportation agencies do not look feasible. “Interestingly, the Civil Supplies Department has not quoted any final rate for the transportation. The rates at which the tenders have been finalised are one fourth of the market cost and not feasible under any circumstances,” a source said.
And for this new system, it was decided to post one inspector, one data entry operator, a dusting operator, a sweeper and three night watchmen in each of the 14 storage godowns in the district.
However, these officials have not been posted till now and equipment like computers yet to be installed.
Sources said of the 19 sanctioned supply inspector posts, there are just 12 in the district. Till the recruitments are made, the existing supply inspectors have to manage the show.
District Civil Supplies Officer Ram Prasad Padhi said the required number of staff would be appointed soon. On the tenders, he said performance of the transportation agents will be under watch and in the event of any allegation, stringent action will be taken.