Abid Hussain

State Forest Corporation conveniently overlooks BPL families in timber sales!

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Srinagar, Dec 26: Even as the laid down rules guarantee certain benefits to the people coming from Below Poverty Line (BPL) families, however, the State Forest Corporation is conveniently sidelining these poor households in distribution of timber.

The State Forest Corporation (SFC), which is supposed to provide timber to BPL families at concessional rates, is going against its own order wherein it was stated that the poor families would be provided timber at low rates determined on the basis of records maintained by the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs (FCSCA).

"Eligibility under BPL category is to be determined based on records maintained by the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs," reads the SFC circular issued on 21-12-2018 with No. Cvi/SFC/1246-90.

"The rates for sale of timber in Concessional Timber Sale Depots have been revised vide Govt. Order No. 365-FST of 2018 dated 22.11.2018. In terms of the said order classification of the depots into A, B and C zone was dispensed and sale rates have been prescribed for BPL and non-BPL consumers," it adds. "BPL will also include AAY (Antyodaya Anna Yojana) category. Rest categories shall be treated as non-BPL."

It is worth mentioning that the BPL ration cards were converted into PHH (priority households) category after National Food Security Act (NFSA) was implemented in the state.

The government order No: 40-FCS&CA, dated 08-02-2018, says, "After implementation of NFSA, 2013, the nomenclature of erstwhile BPL category has been converted into PHH category. It is hereby notified for all concerned that PHH category beneficiaries constituted erstwhile BPL category beneficiaries after implementation of NFSA, 2013, as per directions of Government of India."

According to above mentioned order, the SFC is bound to offer concessions to PHH category. However, no such concessions are given to the households of this category.

Officials wishing anonymity confirmed to ‘Kashmir Images’ that the poor families of BPL or PHH category are compelled to pay 70 percent more than the prescribed rates as the SFC is not authenticating PHH as BPL.

"As per government order, the rate per cubic feet ‘Budloo’ is around Rs 295 for priority households (PHH or BPL), but they have to pay Rs 501," confirmed a senior official.

Meanwhile, a group of priority ration card holders also confirmed that they get timber without any subsidy from the SFC.

When contacted, Managing Director SFC, Vasu Yadav, said that their priority is the poorest section of the society should get benefits first. "We have limitations in the availability of timber and with its increase we can include other categories also," he added, while cleverly sidestepping the original query which had asked why were people of BPL or PHH category not provided timber on concessional rates.

As per SFC, there are only two categories: BPL (including AAY) and non-BPL. The BPL and AAY shall be treated as one.

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