Thiruvananthapuram: Majority of those who are managing ration shops on temporary basis will be rendered jobless once about 600 new licences are issued.
The State Public Distribution Department has invited applications after including most ration shops in the reservation category. According to the new rationing order, licences will be issued based on reservation and priority marks, which will render many, including salesmen, jobless.
Salesmen with 10 years' experience will be awarded 10 marks, and each additional year will carry half-a-mark each. The maximum mark is 20. However, the priority marks would not benefit all.
Ration merchants' associations pointed out that there are several salesmen working in the field for more than 20 years, and they could not find another job.
Meanwhile, salesmen in several districts have initiated a legal battle pointing out the possible loss of livelihood. The high court had considered some of the petitions and issued a stay.
Shops abandoned by the licencees or those with their licences cancelled have been attached to licensed shops. Such attached shops are being run with the help of a salesman. This, however, is a temporary arrangement. The authorities have now invited applications for licences for such attached shops after a long interval.
The government had amended the norms in the Kerala Rationing Order to facilitate new applicants. Those who had cleared Class 10, and aged 62 or below, could apply for the licence.
The last date for submitting applications is June 14.
Reservation up to 35%
The sector will have 35 per cent reservation for Scheduled Castes (8%), Scheduled Tribes (2%), differently-abled (5%) and women (20%). The high court, too, had ordered to allow reservation while issuing new licences. However, there is an opposition to the move to fill the vacancies of licensees -- many of them vacant for years -- through a single notification, and that too based on reservation.
The public distribution department had earlier issued an order saying reservation norms would not be applicable when the dependents of a deceased licensee, his/her salesmen are awarded licences. Ration merchants' associations said the department has brought such shops too under reservation norms. The All Kerala Ration Dealers' Association has appealed to the government to keep the promise of the food minister that relaxation in norms would be granted to such salesmen.
The department, however, argued that the salesmen too have the possibility of getting the licence if they fall in the reservation category.