Supply & Distribution of Essential Commodities!
…need to streamline the system, remaining focused on socio-economic issues along with craving for conflict resolution
VIEWPOINT BY DR.JAVID IQBAL
In the hot furnace of the political situation, emerging out of living in a conflict zone, the attention of masses almost in entirety remains focused on the next turn of events. The security of life and limb catches the attention of all and sundry. The official agencies are all geared up to prevent anything untoward happening, in the present time phase, government is pulling all its punches for ensuring a cool summer. It is doing all it can to prevent a recurrence of the politically hot summer of 2010. In fact it is feared in some circles that over-obsession with maintaining a cool summer, the very repetition of it on a daily basis by political and administrative executives might provoke something untoward. Craving for a cool summer entails a cool mind and balanced attitude.
The resistance leaders while providing periodic reminder of a conflict that needs to be resolved remain careful not to fiddle with peace. Beyond giving an occasional hartal call, nothing that would destabilize the daily routine of citizenry is being attempted. Kashmir needs peace. That it needs conflict resolution too is beyond doubt, sharp differences remain on how to resolve it. However there seems to be no effort in narrowing differences between various resistance formations. The mainstreamers remain obsessed with power equations. The exercise of it for public welfare is patch to say the least. As patchy as the work on a flyover-like the one on Hyderpora crossing, the shoddy macadamization-which gives away faster than it is laid, hardly surviving a rainfall or a winter. That sums up the political situation and public welfare-or may we say the lack of it!
Unfortunately in the heat of debate that political situation generates, the vital economic arteries hardly get the deserved attention. This sets in the sclerosis-the disorder leading to improper flow and distribution. Sclerosis is a known vascular disorder, whereby the suppleness and elasticity of blood vessels is lost, leading to improper flow of blood, with the resultant problems in its distribution. How truly the analogy holds, while we talk of economic arteries. The socio-economic aspect remains in spaces hardly noticeable. Hence some elements, the vested interests make hay while the sun shines. That might be proverbial; they make hay even when it does not shine!
The spring was still awaited when in the cool months of February and March [the cold in Kashmir is hardly over in this month] certain facts about facts about supply and distribution of essential commodities came to fore. Though they were widely reported in the press, hardly notice was taken by cross section of the society, engrossed as the society remains with the political question. Socio-economic issues thus remain very low on the priority scale. On Feb 25th a news item appeared in ‘Greater Kashmir which read as ‘What could be a tip of the iceberg, tonnes of sugar meant for aam aadmi in Kashmir is being sold in open market by private dealers allegedly in league with officials of the Food Corporation of India and the Consumers Affairs and Public Distribution Department (CAPD) in Jammu and Kashmir. While the sugar never reaches the deserved ones, the officials at the FCI and CAPD are understood to be issuing receipt vouchers against something they haven’t received—an assertion which is now under the scanner of the Special Investigation Team of Police, constituted to thoroughly probe the matter.’
On the face of it, in the complex web of supply and distribution, the nodal agencies appear to be the Food Corporation of India (FCI) on the federal level and the Consumers Affairs and Public Distribution Department (CAPD) in Jammu and Kashmir. However, in certain instances before the supplies reach those for whom it is meant, there is an open market sale. The official machinery ensures that official paper work is maintained, like issuing receipt vouchers for items not received at all. In the particular instance quoted in ‘GK’ the supplies meant for official depots were sold to a dealer in Anantnag. It is indeed gratifying to note, as ‘Greater Kashmir’ news item put it that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on receiving the public complaint via his Grievance Cell (Complaint no 20109) acting promptly asking the top police brass to institute a special investigating team [SIT] to probe the matter. Subsequently SIT headed by Sujit Kumar, SP Srinagar South investigated the matter.
On March the 29th GK carried another news item on the case relating that Directorate of Enforcement and Deputy Director Chandigarh zonal office, V. Neerja asked the police officials to provide them copy of the FIR. While the enforcement directorate took suo motto notice of GK report, Chandigarh office quoted ‘GK’ report of March 4/5 pertaining to SIT raiding the FCI godown in Jammu and quizzing its general manager. FCI involvement, it was noted attracts investigation under Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002. The relentless follow-up of GK in the print media led to arrest of 10 persons including six officials of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution department and FCI. The news report related another scam of pilfering essential commodities meant for public distribution, which surfaced in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district with police seizing 90 quintals of sugar and arresting seven persons including three CAPD officials.
As if this were enough, the Jammu based Excelsior carried a news item of its Srinagar based correspondent dated 8th March on pilferage of kerosene meant for public distribution. Kerosene is used to heat homes, also as the fuel in kerosene stoves, meant for cooking. The poorer sections of the society depend on it, as cooking gas gets costlier and in winter is sometimes hard to acquire, the supplies running short. Police in fact, as per press reports registered a case- FIR No. 07/2010 under Sections 120B, 409,420 RPC, 3/7 Essential Commodities Act. The investigation reportedly in this was too was entrusted to SP City South headed SIT. This happened after police acted on a tip-off and police station Shergarhi in Srinagar swung into action on February 5 and seized an oil tanker, which was being illegally unloaded at Aloochibagh in the city. The police investigation into the pilferage racket reportedly revealed that there was black marketing of kerosene too.
Without going into details of further proceeding by police or judicial probe of the case, what has come to fore is a matter of worry. It points to lacunas in public distribution system. As is evident the authorized distributors have to distribute as per the authorization of the concerned officials. However it seems to be a tale of avoiding officially assigned channels. In case the police registered case is substantiated judicially, the conclusion could be drawn that essential commodities in some instances at least do not get to the poor and deprived at rates fixed by the government. In similar plane, if the allegation of made-up paper work gets substantiated in sugar scams and Kerosene pilferage, it would mean that the there is complicity of all involved in the delivery and distribution circuit. The matter needs to be probed taken to its logical conclusion. The government needs to re-visit the entire ambit of acquisition, delivery and distribution of consumer goods. Particular attention may be paid to the desirable of not making it a monopoly of any person or a group of person. New players, who meet the government criterion, and are otherwise eligible, should be provided a level playing field. More important honest officials, who may be an impediment for those indulging in shady deals, need to be protected.
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
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Lastupdate on : Thu, 23 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 23 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 24 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
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