Odapada: In order to increase Iron and Iodine intake, selling of Iron and Iodine added salt packets has recently been added in public distribution system (PDS). But it has left beneficiaries more worried than being happy.
While a common salt packet is selling at Rs 10 and an Iodised salt packet from a branded company at Rs 17 a packet in open market, PDS beneficiaries are being made to buy a packet at Rs 20 a packet. They are allegedly being denied of Re1 PDS rice if they are refusing to buy the salt packet.
While such allegation is made by the beneficiaries of Indipur panchayat under Odapada block in Dhenkanal district, similar allegations are reportedly pouring in from different parts of state, making it worth enough for investigation.
“We are daily earners. The one rupee rice we are getting from PDS counters helps us a lot. But now the Iodine salt has become our headache,” said some beneficiaries of Indipur panchayat adding that the dealers are forcing these salt packets costing Rs 20 on us.
“In market the salt packets are selling at a comparatively lower price. But we are left with no choice other than buying the salt packets from PDS counters at a higher price,” said some unsatisfied customers.
There are 84 dealer points in 28 panchayats under Odapada block. In the first phase 100 quintals of these salt packets have been provided to these dealers. The packets mention it that the salt is good for health. And the dealers have been asked to sell these packets after making the beneficiaries aware of the Iodine salt. However, it solely depends on the beneficiaries whether or not to buy these salt packets.
The salt is the source of headache not only for the beneficiaries but also for the dealers. They fear if the salt packets remain unsold for more days than normal, they tend to get vitiated.
This is said to be the reason why the dealers are forcing their beneficiaries to buy the salt packets. With this they are killing two birds with one stone. By forcing the salt on beneficiaries they can reduce the stock and achieve the given target.
But the beneficiaries have found at the receiving end. Until the introduction of Iodine salt in PDS, they used to buy 20 kg rice at Rs 20. But now they are unwittingly spending Rs 40 to get the same amount of rice with an extra addition of a salt packet.
Notably, with an aim to make Iodised salt an easy access for common people, a National Iodine Deficiency Disorders Control Programme (NIDDCP) has been launched by the Ministry of Health and Family welfare in the national level. However the price of the packet is different in different states. While this specific Iodised salt packet is being sold at Rs 5 in Andhra Pradesh, the same is being sold at Rs 6 in Karnataka. Similarly the prices of this Iodised salt packet are Re 1, Re 1, Rs 4, Rs 3.50, Rs 8, Rs 8.50, Rs 6, Rs 10 and Rs 7.50 in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Kerala, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Assam respectively.
While the salt is made available free of cost in Chhatisgarh, the price of the salt packet is maximum in Odisha.
Here people observed that the purpose of the programme can never be achieved unless the salt is made available at a lower price, if not free of cost.