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Subsidised rice becomes money-spinner for traders

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Khammam: By introducing Re-1-a-kg rice scheme, the State Government has been trumpeting that it has been...

Khammam: By introducing Re-1-a-kg rice scheme, the State Government has been trumpeting that it has been striving for the welfare of downtrodden in the State. The much popularized Rs-2-a-kg subsidized rice scheme was first introduced by former Chief Minister late N T Rama Rao in 1983. The Congress government, led by Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy reduced the price to mere Re 1 per kg.

But this scheme has been misused by the beneficiaries, ration shop dealers, rice millers, businessmen and contractors. The subsidized rice is being supplied to the white ration card holders through ration shops spread across the State by public distribution system (PDS). Several of the ration shops, especially in rural areas, are not opened during working hours and many of the white ration card holders do not show interest to consume the Re 1 rice due to its poor quality. Majority of ration shop dealers know about the card holders who do not purchase the subsidized rice.

Ration shop dealers pay Rs 8 to Rs 9 per kg to the white card holders and make entries in the register that rice was distributed to the beneficiaries. Thus the ration shop dealers purchase rice from white card holders. Then the shop owners re-sell the rice to rice millers at Rs 12 to Rs 15 per kg and get profits. The millers, in turn, polish that rice for a couple of times and change its colour. Then, the millers re-sell the modified rice to shops in open market at a cost ranging from Rs 20 to Rs 22 per kg thereby gaining profits. Even common people know about this open secret.

The subsidized rice (Re-1-kg rice) is thus sold at Rs 25 to Rs 27 per kg in open market to general public. Sometimes, the millers sell the rice to other districts and even to other states. There are specified rice mills in Khammam, Sathupalli, Kothagudem and other towns in the district which purchase Re-1 rice from ration shops.
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