CHENNAI: The century-old Triplicane Urban Co-operative Society (TUCS), the sole supplier of vegetables and provisions to all Amma Canteens in Chennai, is in a pickle. At a time when the sales at these budget canteens are increasing in these demonetised days, the society is anxiously looking forward to clearance of pending dues from the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) for the materials supplied to Amma Canteens.
Given the cash crunch all around the country owing to demonetisation, the 112-year-old society has written to the civic body recently, urging it to pay the bill amount pending over the last two years at the earliest.
The TUCS is among the forerunners of consumer movement in the country, selling vegetables and provisions at subsidised rates – alongside liquor, till the retail trade was nationalised. The society now runs a supermarket, self-service department stores (Kamadhenus), sells cooking gas and operates more than 300 rations shops under the Public Distribution System (PDS).
When Amma Canteens were launched in 2013, an agreement was signed with TUCS outlets as the only supplier for vegetables, provisions and gas. The Corporation runs 400 such budget canteens to which TUCS supplies essential items through the respective zonal offices. Bills are submitted at the end of each month, and the municipal body releases 75 per cent of the bill amount within a week and the rest after verifying the bills. “Though the Corporation had promptly paid the 75 % initial payment, the balance payment of `18 crore is overdue,” a senior TUCS official told Express. The pending amount from their biggest client has had a telling impact on the society’s functioning, the official added. “Given the shortage of currency notes among suppliers and customers, realising the pending amount will ensure smooth functioning,” said the official.
Denying that there were dues pending, a senior Corporation official said settlements were done systematically. He claimed that bills worth `3 crore were recently cleared and the rest would be disposed of soon.
In the recent months, the civic body had faced severe fund crunch which forced it to put several major infrastructure projects on hold.