Saturday, October 2, 2010

Twenty kilometers from the Pakistan border

On Saturday we stopped by the government shop to speak to Mr. Sarabjit Singh who runs government depot #155 in Chabal Khan and distributes food at a subsidized rate to ration card-holding Indians.  The depot serves 460 people in the village area and is open eight hours/day, six days/week.  Today he was selling kerosine oil at Rs 12/L + 27 paisa for commission; wheat for those far below the poverty line (BPL)(only two people in the village qualify for this rate) was at a rate of Rs 2/kg + 8 paisa commission; wheat flour for Rs 11/kg + 70 paisa commission; wheat for Rs 8.5/kg + 25 paisa commission (for those above the poverty line (APL));  wheat for Rs 4/kg *  The depot receives all its food from Punsup, where 65 other government depots also receive their food.

According to Mr. Singh, prices in India began rising around the year 2005. It wasn't until 2007 that the Indian government began to distribute pulses at the reduced rate of Rs. 20/kg.  Recently, kerosene prices have increased.  

Mr. Singh noted a few of the concerns he has with the depot.  He thinks the commission should be larger.  Currently he has to pay the transportation costs of the food, and there are a number of items that do not provide a commission for him.  In addition, he feels that the depot needs better storage facilities to guard against pests.  

Me and Mr. Sarabjit Singh

Curious kids

Curious kids

Weighing the rations

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