The state government plans to distribute kerosene to BPL (below poverty line) and Antyodaya ration card holders in the city through private bunks, keeping in line with a similar initiative in Chennai.
Over one lakh BPL and Antyodaya card holders in the city would get their monthly supply of kerosene through such bunks instead of the conventional fair-price shops.
The initiative will be carried out on a pilot basis at three bunks in the city — one in RT Nagar and two in Rajajinagar, and if found to be successful, it will be extended to other parts of the city.
Under the public distribution system (PDS), the state food and civil supplies department has been distributing five litres of kerosene, along with rice, sugar and wheat, to each card holder every month.
In Bangalore alone there are 1.8 lakh kerosene beneficiaries and a total of six lakh litres of kerosene is supplied to them every month through fair-price shops on retail basis. The new initiative will supply kerosene to consumers through wholesale dealers instead of fair-price shops. In Bangalore, there are over 30 such wholesale kerosene distributors with bunk facility.
According to the state commissioner of food and civil supplies, Harsha Gupta, the initiative of supplying kerosene to ration card holders through wholesale bunks in Chennai has been highly successful. "In order to control the malpractices of fair-price shops, we are planning to introduce such a system in Bangalore as well. If the pilot project gets good response from customers, we will start it in all major cities and towns in the state."
"The bunks will cover BPL and Antyodaya ration card holders living within three kilimetres. Consumer will get correct measure at such bunks. We face multiple handling problems while distributing kerosene through fair-price shops. Besides, it is very difficult to visit each fair-shop to check whether they are indulging in any malpractices," he said.
"Our plan was to supply kerosene in bunks from April 15. But, owing to the Lok Sabha polling, there was a delay and hopefully from next month we will start the project. The fair-price shop keepers are opposing it, but this is government policy and they will have to follow it," he added.
Meanwhile, fair-price shop owners have strongly opposed the initiative and approached the chief minister for canceling the proposal.
"Under the PDS system, we are selling kerosene for the past 30 years. If the government shifts it to wholesale dealers, in Bangalore alone over 200 fair-shop owners will suffer. Therefore, we are requesting the government to continue the present kerosene distribution system," said Karnataka fair-shop owner's association president T Krishnappa.
Even, the wholesale dealers are also not happy about the commission fixed by the government for the kerosene supply. "The government has selected our bunk to supply kerosene on a trial basis. Over each card, government has fixed 50 paise as commission. But, it won't work for us," one of the wholesale dealers told dna.