Ration dealers fear loss of livelihood
The fair price shop dealers, who are in fear of losing their livelihood due to the introduction of new system by the state government in the name of Village Volunteers (VVs), are preparing for a state-wide protest and also planning to knock the doors of High Court.
Amaravati: The fair price shop dealers, who are in fear of losing their livelihood due to the introduction of new system by the state government in the name of Village Volunteers (VVs), are preparing for a state-wide protest and also planning to knock the doors of High Court. On the other hand, the state government is taking steps to muzzle their protests with the police issuing warnings in writing to them not to stage protests in the state.
Fair price shop dealers, popularly known as ration dealers in the state, have been distributing food and other essential goods to white ration card holders through the Public Distribution System (PDS) for the last 60 years.
There are about 29,500 dealers functioning in the state now. Each dealer would have an assistant and about 5,000 hamalis are working for these shops, according to the statistics available with the State Fair Price Shops Dealers Association.
Devarakonda Srinivasa Rao, a ration shop dealer from Veerulapadu in Krishna district, said that a group of dealers has asked the civil supplies minister Kodali Nani and information and public relations minister Perni Nani to give assurance that their livelihood would not be disturbed, which went in vain.
He observed that they welcome the Village Volunteer system, but not at the cost of their onw livelihood. The dealers lament that Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has been appointing about three lakh YSRCP cadres as volunteers, spending more than Rs 300 crore a month and removing 30,000 dealers who have been rendering services for just Rs 30 crore as commission.
If the government removes the 30,000 dealers, that would directly impact the employment opportunities of around 65,000 direct dependents and livelihood of nearly three lakh people. Kagitha Konda, president of AP e-Pass Operators Welfare Association, told The Hans India that in fact there was no provision for Village Volunteers in the Food Security Act 2013.
The Act says that the fair price shop dealers have the responsibility of providing food material to the white ration card holders. But, the intention behind introduction of volunteers was only to hurt dealers and their livelihood, he added.
Kagitha Konda, Srinivasa Rao and others explained that they tried to meet the Chief Minister to urge him not to remove them. However, in apparent bid to foil their stir, police summoned almost all the dealers to their respective police stations and served them notices not to protest anywhere in the state.
For instance, about 25 dealers who wanted to visit CM camp office at Tadepalli, were taken to Veerulapadu police station in Krishna district on Wednesday. The police have been issuing warnings to the dealers, not even sparing women, the physically-challenged, SCs, STs, minorities and BCs for last three days, lamented the association leaders.
So far, the PDS has been under the purview of revenue department, but the state government transferred it to the panchayat raj department as it has been recruiting the volunteers, the dealers said. The mandal development officers are told to find new stock points for distribution of PDS material to be handed over to the volunteers. This is a clear indication that the government has decided to remove the dealers, they say.
When the Central government has been considering implementation of AP model of PDS across the country, the state government has decided to abandon it, observed Srinivasa Rao. He said that when the government recruited dealers, it asked them to surrender their employment registration card, which was mandatory for getting employment in the government then. The successive governments in the past considered the dealership as a self and full-time employment, he added.
-Sambasiva Rao M