PDS wheat goes missing in Tamil Nadu as Centre cuts supply

Ration shops across Tamil Nadu have started reducing supply of the grain to PDS cardholders in anticipation of a shortage.
Image used for representational purpose only.
Image used for representational purpose only.

CHENNAI: After New Delhi slashed supply of wheat to Tamil Nadu by half for the next six months, PDS (Pubic Distribution System) cardholders are facing the brunt. Ration shops across Tamil Nadu have started reducing supply of the grain to PDS cardholders in anticipation of a shortage.

Though the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation (TNCSC) warehouses have adequate wheat stock to last more than six months, a shortage is likely from the beginning of 2023, officials said. The Union government has reduced the allocation to Tamil Nadu and a few other States due to fall in wheat cultivation area and other reasons.

Each month, Tamil Nadu gets 30,645 tonnes of wheat, and distributes 20,000 to 23,000 tonnes through PDS shops. The grain is supplied by the Union government under the National Food Security Act, 2013, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, and tide-over allocation.

The State presently has about 1.5 lakh to 1.6 lakh tonnes of wheat stock. Cardholders are eligible to get 10kg of wheat per month in Chennai and district headquarters, and 5kg in other areas. Wheat is given for free to rice cardholders who opted for it.

In the market, a kg of wheat costs between Rs 44 and Rs 55. Since last month, consumers in Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Tiruchy, and other areas have been complaining about not getting enough PDS wheat.

'Many rations shops got just 140 kg to 200 kg of wheat'

"When I visited the ration shop on July 3, I was told there was no wheat. I went there again the next Sunday, and the staff said the grain was yet to be supplied due to a national-level crisis," said S Krishnan, a resident of Korattur in Chennai. Many ration shops in Chennai have received just 140kg to 200kg of wheat, which is enough only for 30 to 50 cardholders.

PDS shops supply 2 to 5 kg per cardholder though the government has earmarked 10kg for each PDS card. In Tirunelveli, the staff at ration shops often give wheat on a rotational basis. "Only half the cardholders get wheat a month. The rest of us are told to come for it the next month," said S Ram, a resident of Kalakkad.

When questioned, a section of supervisors in the Coimbatore region said the supply to fair price shops has been disrupted. "We didn’t get any wheat during the second phase in June, and this continued in July," they said.

Madurai-based consumer activist S Dhayanandhan said, "Ration shops got a meager quantity of wheat that was left over from the previous month. Many people want wheat, but PDS shops send us back, saying there is a supply shortage."

TNCSC officials denied any shortage of wheat on account of the Centre's decision. "We will communicate with the registrars of cooperatives to transport the stock from godowns," they said. When contacted Food and Consumer Protection secretary J Radhakrishnan promised to look into the issue and resolve complaints.

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