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Food minister orders salt check

Ranchi/Jamshedpur: State food and civil supplies minister Saryu Roy has taken umbrage over iron-fortified iodised salt being sold beyond their shelf life at PDS outlets and asked his department to direct block officials to launch a stock-checking exercise.

The minister was reacting to a report published in these newspaper columns on Friday highlighting how a PDS shop in the capital's Jagannathpur area was offering beneficiaries packets of Jharkhand Namak that had lost nutrient value since it was already a month after its expiry date. Khagendra Sharma, at whose shop a resident was offered expired salt, had said fresh stocks were not available.

Roy stressed that stocks to each PDS outlet was sent on the basis of its allotment depending on the number of beneficiaries for a particular month. "Either the PDS dealer in question didn't pass on his allocated quota to bona fide beneficiaries or he didn't collect his quota on time," the minister said, adding that old stocks should either be returned or destroyed. "I have asked my department to organise a stock-checking exercise. If need be, deputy commissioners will dispose of expired stocks under their vigil."

Special officer rationing Sashi Bhushan Mehra said he had already directed all market and block supply officers to look for leftover salt stocks at PDS outlets and take punitive action, if required.

The minister also cleared air on a controversial salt video. He said the state earlier purchased ferrous sulphate salt under PDS, but had now shifted to fumarate-double fortified salt through reverse auctioning process in all districts.

"A video is doing the rounds that shows the new salt isn't dissolving in water, with many claiming it is adulterated. The reality is it has iron in granulated form and takes longer to dissolve compared to normal salt," Roy added.

The department, nevertheless, stopped a fresh tender for procuring the salt.

Roy, who was in Jamshedpur in the evening, said they would float a tender only after cabinet approval.

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