No subsidised sugar for central forces

At a time when both the government and the Opposition are trying to woo paramilitary and defence forces ahead of general elections, this is one move of the Centre that is not going down well with them. Stoppage of subsidised sugar to central armed police forces (CAPF), which has upped their kitchen bill.

The change affected around eight lakh police personnel, some of whom are deputed in far-flung border areas, posted at high altitude and Maoist affected areas.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution intimated the CAPF that "due to some change in policy of the government they will not be able to continue with the present system of allocation."

Earlier, the ministry provided sugar at a subsidised rate of Rs 13.50/ kg to battalions but now they have been asked to procure it from the open market. The rate in the open market ranges between Rs 40-50/kg. The ration money allowance (RMA) of a constable is Rs 2,100/month and the new order has upset their budget.

"Either we go without tea or have it without any sugar. With the new order we have started cutting down on other items so that our budget does not go haywire," said a paramilitary official.

Food Ministry officials said supply stopped because the Centre deregulated the sugar sector last April. "Even the states are now procuring from the open markets for the public distribution system," officials said.

"Depending on location of any battalion, we were providing subsidised sugar on their behalf to the state. After the sugar sector was deregulated, the states started purchasing sugar only for their people, their contention being that it is the job of the parent ministry, in this case the Home Ministry to buy subsidised sugar for jawans," they said.

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