BENGALURU: “The whole vigilance committee system for fair price shops is yet another fraud perpetrated by the Food and Civil Supplies Department. Some individuals would just be randomly foisted on the locals,” charges V K Somasekhar, Managing Trustee of Consumer organisation Grahak Shakti.
The activist is still irate that his RTI query filed in 2008 with the department relating to fair price shops has still not generated a response.
“Why is no member of a consumer forum made a part of such committees despite repeated requests of many such organisations? he questions rhetorically. There is nothing new about having a vigilance committee and it had been an old concept being spoken of since the arrival of fair price shops, the activist says. “If all segments of society are adequately represented in it, then streamlining will happen automatically and the need for Aadhaar cards or biometric scanning to do away with corrupt practices will not even be required,” he adds.
Alleging lack of transparency in the appointments, Somasekhar sought to know why the names and telephone numbers of vigilance committee members were not displayed outside ration shops for cardholders to inform them about any irregularities here. “In a place like Chhattisgarh, the rations for BPL card-holders are delivered at their doorstep. Why are we, in Bengaluru, still struggling to streamline it?” he asked. The activist charged that “corruption prevails in this department from top to bottom.”
Y G Muralidhar, member, Central Consumer Protection Council, insists that the department must provide some kind of incentive for such a committee to be really effective. “Why will a BPL card-holder lose out on a day’s wages and organise a meeting when he/she will not gain anything out of it. At least, a token sum of `100 needs to paid to the committee members,” he says.
There was also some level of local political interference in such appointments, Muralidhar charges. “The vigilance move could still be made a success if some changes are introduced in the appointment and functioning,” he added.