India. Sugar supply will end in April, say ration retailers


Sugar has been part of the public distribution system (PDS) in the State for nearly half a century. But, following the curbs imposed on sugar subsidy by the Union Budget, this is going to be a thing of the past, say ration dealers.

“There will be no sugar supply from ration outlets from April,” T. Mohammedali, general secretary of the All-Kerala Retail Ration Dealers Association, told The Hindu . “Because of the Centre’s sugar subsidy curbs, Kerala will no longer get subsidised sugar.” He noted that Food Minister P. Thilothaman himself had expressed the concern that the State would not be able to supply sugar to ration beneficiaries from April.

This is a big blow to the State as the Left Democratic Front government had recently decided to supply sugar to all the families on the ration priority list. The scheme has now been undermined by the Budget proposal.

The immediate impact of the scrapping of ration sugar will be a hike in the price of sugar in the open market. Mr. Mohammedali pointed out that already the price had gone up by Rs. 5 a kg.

For close to half a century, sugar has been part of the ration kitty in Kerala, the State which until recently had been a shining example of a public distribution system that covered the majority of the population. Initially, each family used to get 2.5 kg of subsidised sugar a month, which had later been cut to 2 kg. However, from 1997, when the controversial Targeted Public Distribution System was launched, the number of families entitled to the sugar quota fell to 20 lakh from 69 lakh. Mr. Mohammedali said though sugar supply was a big loss to the ration retailers, they considered it as a service. He noted that for a quintal of sugar costing Rs. 1,380, the ration retailers got a commission of only Rs. 15, while the cost of transporting and distribution was around Rs. 150. He sees the end to the ‘sugar era’ as yet another symptom of the disintegration of the glorious PDS in Kerala.


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