Telangana government holds talks with ration dealers, announces slew of poll-year welfare measures

Insurance plan, inclusion in the Arogyasri scheme, job security, shops for the kin of deceased dealers among promises made.

ByDeepika Pasham

Published Aug 08, 2023 | 9:35 PMUpdatedAug 08, 2023 | 9:35 PM

The ministers held talks with ration dealers on Tuesday. (Supplied)

The ration dealers in Telangana are a happy lot. The state government on Tuesday, 8 August, announced a slew of welfare measures that will benefit 17,227 dealers across the state.

With a few months remaining for the Assembly polls, the government hiked the dealers’ remuneration on food grains to ₹1,400 per metric tonne from ₹900 a metric tonne. It would require an annual budgetary allocation of ₹139 crore. The government has promised to issue a separate GO in a week.

The ration dealers have been collecting food grains to be distributed through their shops from the warehouse where the government stores rice and other grains procured from the farmers.

With the increase in remuneration, the dealers would now get ₹140 per quintal, ₹50 more than what they had been getting. The amount would be credited to the dealers’ bank accounts.

The decision to increase the remuneration was made at a meeting Finance Minister T Harish Rao, and Civil Supplies Minister Gangula Kamalakar held with the representatives of the Ration Dealers’ Association on Tuesday.

Also read: Better days have come for Telangana, says KCR

Long-pending decision

The association has been demanding the hike for a long period and even went on strike in June.

Their 13 key demands included job security, compensation in the form of a hike in price for food grains, a health card, funeral expenses, and allocation of shops to family members of dealers who died during the Covid-19 pandemic.

All the demands have been met.

While the dealers distributed rice and wheat in Hyderabad, they have been selling only rice through fair-price shops in other districts. The Union government has been supplying wheat in other districts. The ration dealers have expressed willingness to distribute wheat, subject to the state’s approval.

Expressing satisfaction over the outcome of the meeting, Association president Naikoti Raju told South First that the dealers’ journey began with a modest compensation of ₹200 per metric tonne when Telangana was formed in 2014.

Over time, the compensation gradually increased to ₹900. Now, with the latest announcement, the dealers will get ₹1,400 per metric tonne.

The government has also promised to implement an insurance scheme of ₹5 lakh each for ration dealers.

Also read: Jal Jeevan Mission makes remarkable strides in Telangana

Additional promises

The state would also include the dealers under the Arogyasri scheme, the flagship programme among the government’s health initiatives. Additionally, measures to enhance accuracy and transparency in the distribution process would also be initiated, including the setting up of weighbridges at Multiple Landing Sites (MLS).

The ministers also supported other significant demands. These include raising the age limit for applying for ration dealerships from 40 to 50 years, providing immediate assistance of ₹10,000 for the funerals of deceased dealers, and allocating land for the construction of a dedicated Ration Bhavan in Hyderabad.

The 17,227 ration shops in Telangana cater to 2.83 crore ration card holders.

“We have been protesting for nine years as the same groups monitored the distribution of ration in Telangana. We struggled during Covid-19 and saved the lives of individuals though we had to bear losses. We submitted various representations seeking an increase in the price, and mandatory health card. All our demands have been met. We have scheduled meetings to express our gratitude to Chief Minister KCR,” ration dealer Srikanth told South First.

Ravi, another dealer said that an announced increase in procurement would help them sustain themselves. “Since we cannot approach the Union government directly, we depend on the state government for assistance. The ministers have made favourable decisions,” he added.