Maha: ‘Unlicensed’ firm supplies cooking oil in discount kits to poor people

Mumbai, Sep 18 (IANS) In a shocker, ration-card holders have complained that edible oil supplied to them under a state government’s discount ration-kit scheme is allegedly manufactured and distributed by a company whose license has been suspended, here on Monday.
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Maha: ‘Unlicensed’ firm supplies cooking oil in discount kits to poor people

Mumbai, Sep 18 (IANS) In a shocker, ration-card holders have complained that edible oil supplied to them under a state government’s discount ration-kit scheme is allegedly manufactured and distributed by a company whose license has been suspended, here on Monday.

The complaints first emanated from Tandulwadi village in Solapur and then Mumbai, Thane and other parts of the state where the ‘Anandache Shidha’ costing Rs 100 are being distributed for the festival season.

Inaugurated on September 8, the Anandache Shidha comprises 1-kg each cooking oil, rava, chana-dal and sugar, costing Rs 100/per family which holds two types of ration-cards.

Around 1.57-crore Anandache Shidha kits will be distributed to benefit around 7.50 crore people, said Food & Civil Supplies Minister Chhagan Bhujbal at the inauguration.

However, in Solapur and other places, the beneficiaries have objected to the oil packet ostensibly manufactured and supplied by Kirti Agrotech Ltd. Solapur, whose manufacturing licence has been cancelled.

“The oil packets have expired and many people threw them away in the drains as it could be dangerous to consume such oil,” alleged a Shiv Sena (UBT) Consumer Protection Cell activist from Solapur, Mallinath Mali.

When contacted, the government-authorised Tandulwadi ration shop owner, Vishwajeet J. Meru denied that the oil packets had expired but admitted that the status of the company’s manufacturing licence is now under a cloud.

“Some of the oil packets which I have in stock mention the expiry date after six months (February 2024). However, we have learnt now that the company’s license was cancelled some months ago. Yet, we were supplied the cooking oil from them which we have distributed in the Anandache Shidha kits as per the government norms,” Meru told IANS.

Despite repeated attempts by IANS, the company owners comprising the Bhutada brothers -- Ashok, Kirti and Bharat -- were not available for their comments in the matter.

The Sena (UBT) carried out an agitation in Solapur and Mumbai on this issue and accused the government of cheating the gullible customers in the name of a festival discount kit.

Monday morning the Tandulwadi Deputy Sarpanch Lingaraj C. Patil and others rushed to the ration shop and stopped the sale/distribution of the ration kits.

Mali claimed that the Kirti Agrotech Ltd., has many complaints with the Centre, the FDA in Mumbai, the district Collector and even the state government, and its licence had been suspended many months ago.

“Then, how this company is given the contract for the Anandache Shidha scheme, who is behind it and why the peoples’ lives are put at risk by supplying such oil. Many people did not consume it and threw it in the gutters or the fields,” said Mali.

A Food & Drugs Authority official in Mumbai said that they would probe the complaints and verify the licence details of the company, and collect samples of the cooking oil, but declined to elaborate.

--IANS

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