The department of civil supplies continues to be dogged by people’s ‘woes’ over kerosene, a basic necessity of life for 3.50 lakh households in the state.
The department had been in the limelight over black marketing of rice, wheat and other essential goods by the people who run fair price shops. The woes of the department had been compounded by the reduction of kerosene quota by the Centre. So, to tide over the situation the Parrikar government came out with a scheme under which arrangement of additional 50,000 litre of kerosene was made. But the scheme received lukewarm response from kerosene supplying agents.
Out of the 18 kerosene dealers only two companies came forward to claim additional kerosene quota: Swar & Co and Damodar and Co. Interestingly, both these companies belong to one person who lifted the quota of around 24,000 litre of kerosene and rest is still lying with the department.
It must be noted here that out of over 15 lakh population of the state, 3.50 lakh households use kerosene as fuel, while 5 lakh households have LPG connections.
During the financial year of 2011-12, around 20 lakh litre of kerosene was consumed in the state. And during the financial year of 2012-13 only 4 lakh litre of kerosene was consumed by the people who do not have LPG connections. But the moot question is: where did 16 lakh litres of kerosene go?
This phenomenon points to surreptitious diversion of kerosene to petrol dealers, who mix it with petrol and to black marketers of kerosene who evade to pay the VAT, thus pushing down revenue receipts of the government.
Under the subsidy scheme on kerosene, the department availed Rs 1.15 crore to offer Rs 25 subsidy on every litre of kerosene that was sold in the open market. In view of the lukewarm response from 18 kerosene dealers for the additional quota of kerosene, the government decided to scrap the scheme forthwith.
The unacceptable aspect of the scheme was that first the dealers were forced to lift the quota without availing the subsidy; they could claim the subsidy from the department only after selling the fuel. But they had to shell out nearly Rs 3 lakh per tanker from their pocket first.
The scheme was launched in September, 2012 during Ganesh Chaturthi after a public outcry over shortage of kerosene.
But keeping the kerosene issue aside, the department is succeeding in dealing with other PDS concerns. It had received Rs 69 crore funds which were spent for procuring rice, wheat and sugar.
The department sanctioned Rs 1.8 crore to the Goa Electronics Limited and Rs 45 lakh to the National Informatics Centre for computerisation project. The department has also sought Rs 20 crore central funds for the same project.
The department is looking forward to implement provisions of the food security bill. It is understood that the Centre has agreed some of the recommendations of a select committee report and wants to cover 75 per cent of Goan population under the provisions of the bill, which is being legislated by the Centre. [NT]