Spill over of low kerosene off-take: Odisha surrenders 6000 KL of poor’s fuel!

Ironically, ruling BJD had gone to the town over kerosene quota cut in 2017. The party demanded restoration of original SKO allocation. CAG blamed State government for the lapse

Bhubaneswar: Even as the ruling BJD had hit streets and created a huge uproar in 2017 over a cut in kerosene quota for the State by the Union Petroleum Ministry, the shocker two years down the line is Odisha failed to lift-off the allocated PDS Superior Kerosene Oil (SKO) quota that led to lapse of a high of nearly 6000 kilolitre (KL).

The lapse of the SKO quota directly pinches the poor households. Reports suggest many BPL cardholders, who are eligible for PDS kerosene, didn’t get their monthly quota as the Fair Price Shop dealers haven’t received the required SKO supply.

As per the data available with the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Odisha failed to lift off the allocated 63, 112 KL of SKO during the quarter of April – June 2019. The result is it saw lapse of a huge 5,990KL of PDS kerosene during the 1st quarter of 2019-20.  The State could lift only 57,122KL during the quarter.

In this backdrop, the Petroleum Ministry has written a letter to the Secretary of Odisha Food and Civil Supplies department last month regarding lapse of 5,990 KL kerosene in the first quarter. Urging the State to ensure complete lift-off of the total allocation, the missive has informed the State about the second quarter SKO quota that has been fixed at 49,152KL.

While allocating SKO for distribution under PDS, Centre asks the State to see the entire allocation made for a month should be lifted within the month itself and carry forward of unlifted quantity would not be allowed.

The State Food and Civil Supplies Department, while reallocating the SKO, instructs all the district authorities to lift the entire allotted quantity every month and ensure that the allotted quantity did not lapse.

As per the norms set by State F&CS department, the wholesalers are to lift 60 per cent of their quota by 10th of the month and 25 per cent by the next week of the month and the remaining by 25th of the month. But the State-appointed wholesalers fail to lift-off the SKO on time, which led to lapse of SKO.

However, a 2014 CAG report blamed the State government for the lapse of SKO allocated. The Audit observed that despite clear guidelines at State-level to take action against errant wholesalers, no punitive actions were initiated.

Though the District Civil Supplies Officers (CSOs) have been authorised to monitor the lift-off of SKO by wholesalers, CAG report had made a scathing remark on lax monitoring at the level of CSOs and lack of any accountability for SKO lapses

The result: the saga of SKO lapse continues even in 2019.

In 2017, the BJD had held large-scale protests demanding restoration of the PDS kerosene quota of 98,448 KL earmarked for the State. Post launch of Ujjwala Yojana, the Centre has gradually effected a cut in PDS kerosene allocation to states across the country, including Odisha.

Interestingly, the party had also targeted Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on the issue of  SKO quota cut.

Factoids: As per the latest data available, the per capita kerosene consumption in Odisha was estimated at 3.6 litre in 2017-18 vis-a-vis of 6 litre in 2016-17.