Around 40,000 fair price shops (FPS) across Odisha downed their shutters on Tuesday in protest against Central government’s plan to transfer cash subsidy directly to the FPS consumers.
“In response to call given by the All India Fair Price Dealers’ Federation (AIFPDF), all the fair price shops across the state downed their shutters. The control shop owners will stage rally in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday in support of their demands,” said president of Odisha Fair Price Retailers Welfare Association (OFPSRWA), Nagendra Jena.
The association demanded continuation of the FPS system to deliver the subsidized commodities and declare the shops as general grocery shops allowing them to sell some more commodities like pulses, cooking gas and postal stamps.
Besides these, the association also demanded enhanced commission to the retailers. “Presently we are getting Rs 20 per quintal and we demand this to go up to Rs 60 per quintal,” Jena said. Supply of food grains to each family and issue of ration cards to every household are other demands of the association.
Expressing concern over the future of thousands of fair price retailers and their families following the implementation of the Central government’s proposal to transfer cash subsidy directly to the PDS (public distribution system) beneficiaries, the Berhampur Government Control Dealers’ Association (BFCDA) demanded scrapping of the proposal.
The Central government’s decision to transfer cash subsidy will snatch away the livelihood of thousands of fair price shop owners who depend on commission earned on delivery of PDS commodities. “There is no reference to the future of families of the FPS retailers. What would be their fate,” questioned Dandeswar Mihsra, one of the executive body members of BFCDA. The dealers’ association was also opposed to foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.