Maid servants and other poor people regularly sell the PDS rice to kirana stores. Tax payer is subsidising hotel owners and kirana store wallas in effect ! Re 1 rice finds its way to Bangalore hotels BANGALORE: Every month, Basavaraj (name changed) promptly buys his allocated ration of 30kg rice from a PDS outlet in Avalahalli, north Bangalore, and takes it straight to a flourmill to get it powdered. Later, he sells the rice flour at a restaurant in Yelahanka and pockets a cool Rs 300. A hotel waiter notices this, and informs a food inspector who simply brushes aside the complaint. Two months after the Karnataka government launched the Anna Bhagya scheme offering 30kg rice at Re 1 a kg, the programme is throwing up strange complaints. "We can't do anything once the subsidized rice is sold to the beneficiaries. Whether he uses it for his own purpose or sells it, how can we question him," asked food and civil supplies minister Dinesh Gundu Rao. Another common complaint is about beneficiaries selling the cheap rice to wholesale merchants, who, in turn, polish and resell it at higher rates. "It's hard to monitor 87 lakh beneficiaries on what they do with the rice. We can act if there are specific complaints of misuse or diversion from public distribution system (PDS) outlets ,'' the minister said. Based on information from the public, officials of the food and civil supplies department said they have, indeed, stumbled upon numerous complaints. But they haven't taken the pains to prove the flour is acquired from the PDS as it is too laborious. A hotelier buying the cheap rice flour said: "Normally, the BPL cardholders approach us with the flour. A 20kg rice flour in open market will cost us anywhere between Rs 800 and Rs 1,000; here, we get it for less than Rs 300. It has come as blessing in disguise at a time when rice prices are skyrocketing." TIMES VIEW Every social security scheme has its flaws and so it is with Anna Bhagya. The public distribution system has long been fraught with problems of corruption and mismanagement. By selling the rice at higher prices in the outside market, the beneficiaries are only strengthening the case of subsidy naysayers. While the government may be technically correct in washing its hands of the matter saying it is beyond its jurisdiction, it may not be a morally right stand. For deterrents have to be in place so that a few rotten eggs don't spoil the benefits intended for many.