BHUBANESWAR: Even as the State government is crying foul against the Centre for the huge pending food subsidy bill, 26 districts of the State have not submitted the utilisation certificates (UCs) for foodgrains distributed under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) for the last four financial years.
Civil supplies officers-cum-district managers are the designated officers for lifting and distribution of foodgrains allocated under NFSA for 96,76,934 ration card holders covering over 3.26 crore population in the State. They are required to submit utilisation certificates by the end of the financial year for onward transmission to the Centre for reimbursement of the food subsidy bill.
The Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation (OSCSC) is the nodal agency of the State government for procurement of paddy, custom milling and distribution among the identified beneficiaries. The corporation has given seven reminders, five times last year and two times this year, to the CSO-cum-DMs for submission of utilisation certificates indicating details of lifting and distribution for 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years. The Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department had also written to the district collectors on March 26, 2021 to direct the CSOs to submit UCs.
However, only four districts of Boudh, Jagatsingpur, Kandhamal and Kendrapara have submitted the UCs. Issuing another reminder on Wednesday, OSCSC Managing Director Sudhakar Sabaro said the State government is pressing hard for submission of UCs.
“It is once again requested to furnish the UCs separately (commodity wise) for the last four financial years within three days to the corporation head office,” the letter said. In February, the State government has written to the Centre requesting release of pending food subsidy bill of `9,317.25 crore of OSCSC which is facing acute liquidity crunch for purchase of paddy under the minimum support price scheme for the kharif and rabi marketing seasons.
When asked on what basis the State government is claiming reimbursement of food subsidy from the Centre when it has not submitted UCs to Food Corporation of India, a senior officer of the department refused to comment.
The Centre which has been providing free foodgrains to the people under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) since March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out extended the scheme for another six months from April to September 2022.