Tamil Nadu's minister of food R Kamaraj on Tuesday blamed former CM O Panneerselvam for the shortage of food supplies in ration shops.
Kamaraj explained, "Under the Public Distribution Scheme (PDS), rice, sugar, wheat and kerosene are distributed and under the Special Public Distribution Scheme (SPDS), dal and palm oil are distributed. PDS does not need a period extension but SPDS needs a period extension relatively for 3 to 6 months. OPS did not sign on the extension that was supposed to be implemented in the beginning of 2017 which lead to all the discomfort."
Kamaraj also said that Rs 5,500 crore have been allotted to implement PDS and SPDS to see that everyone benefits from it as per Jayalalithaa's vision. He alleged that the glitch was only because of OPS. "A meeting was held on January 2 in which OPS, State's Chief Secretary, Minister Sellur Raju and myself were present. I asked OPS to give an extension period for SPDS for which he obliged but later I came to know that no extension period was given. Now I understand that he has done it deliberately to cause bad name to Amma's government as he joined hands with the DMK," he alleged.
While speaking on DMK's state-wide protest in front of fair price shops on March 13, Kamaraj said that the DMK knew that tenders to procure 15,000 metric ton of dal and 1.5 crore litre palm oil were floated on March 3 after acquiring extension period from CM Edapadi K Palanisamy and only after knowing this fact DMK's working president Stalin called for the protest. "Just to create an illusion that they were responsible for solving the issue, the DMK staged this protest. This is just a stunt to gain political browny points and the weird part is that OPS also indirectly blessed the DMK by releasing a statement on the same day seeking the government to implement SPDS as per Amma's wish. What rights does he have?" he questioned.
The minister, however, did not answer to the claim that even rice, wheat, sugar and kerosene which was supposed to be distributed under PDS was not done citing shortage since January.
Kamaraj was also unable to give a clear answer to the DMK's claim that items were procured as mentioned but not distributed, though he stated that 950 men have been arrested under Goondas Act for trying to sell, smuggle or hoard ration goods and boasted that the number was twice from that of the culprits arrested during the DMK regime.
Food ministry has not given a reply yet to the claim of DMK leader Kanimozhi, who had earlier raised doubts over how the state owned liquor shop (TASMAC) website could give exact details about the availability of stocks on liquor brands but the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation failed to do so.