Ration dealers’ strike from today, Govt to act tough
Thiruvananthapuram: With the ration dealers across the state deciding to go on an indefinite strike from Monday onwards, the state government is planning to handover the ration shops, which will down shutters, to the Kudumbashree.
Nearly 14,000 PDS shops are operating in the state. The dealers alleged that the state government is yet to execute the promises given to them, including declaration of a remuneration package for ration shop owners, supply of E-POS machines, SMS alert facility to inform about arrival of food grains.
If the dealers close down the ration shops as part of the strike, these shops will be taken over by the government under the Kerala Rationing Control Act and the Essential Commodities Act. Kudumbashree and Women Self-Help Groups will be given the charge of running the shops and a temporary licence will be provided to them.
If this plan does not work out, ration will be supplied through Maveli Stores and Supplyco. Supplyco has 1,500 retail units across Kerala.
As per the National Food Security Act, in case of any disruption in the ration distribution to those in the priority list, the government is bound to give compensation to the card holders. Of the total food grains distributed in the state under the Public Distribution System (PDS), 46 per cent goes to those in the ration priority list.
There is no need for dealers to remit advance payment for grains distributed under free ration scheme. Therefore, the government assume that the Women SHGs or Kudumashree can easily take over the task.
Though the strike will start today, the traders have stopped collecting ration grains from November 1.
Samyukta Samara Samithi Convener Kadambuzha Moosa said they decided to shut shops after the talks with the Food and Civil Supplies Minister failed. However, Kerala Ration Retail Dealers Association, a CPI-affiliated association, will stay away from strike.
Minister P Thilothaman said strong action will be initiated against the government officials who support the ration dealers in the strike.