Dispute over subsidised salt sale raging in Darchula

Dhangadi, February 11

A dispute has broken out between two government agencies over the sale of subsidised salt in Api Himal Rural Municipality, Darchula.

The dispute broke out between Salt Trading Corporation and Api Himal Rural Municipality after the rural municipality started selling the salt procured from Salt Trading Corporation at higher price. The corporation wanted to sell the salt from its depot set up in the rural municipality.

The RM purchased 500 quintals of salt from the corporation for the current fiscal. It then started selling a packet of salt, which it had bought from the corporation for Rs 9 at Rs 25.

The corporation has flayed the RM for not allowing it to sell the subsidised salt. Salt Trading Corporation Regional Office Dhangadi Co-general Manager Keshav Prasad Pandey said Api Himal Rural Municipality had not allowed the corporation to sell salt in the rural municipality. “Salt is in stock at the depot at the RM. They have obstructed us from selling the salt at Rs 9 per packet, while the RM is selling the same salt at Rs 25 per packet,” Pandey said.

The corporation provides salt in hilly areas at subsidised price. The government has fixed a quota of 1,000 quintals for API Himal RM for this fiscal. Of the total quota, 270 quintals salt has already been transported to the depot in the rural municipality. Before that, the rural municipality had procured 500 quintals of salt from the corporations’ depot at Gokaleswor, saying that it would sell the salt itself.

Api Himal RM chair Dharmananda Manyal said the adjusted price after adding transportation charges was Rs 25 per packet of salt. He said they had urged the corporation not to supply salt to the village before the RM-procured salt was sold. “The salt we procured will be sold in a month’s time. I have urged them to supply the salt after that as we have spent Rs 5 lakh to transport salt from Gokaleswor. But, the officers at the corporation are yet to agree,” Manyal said.

Allegations and counter-allegations started after the corporation started transporting salt before the rural municipality-procured salt was sold out. Manyal also complained that some people even spread a rumour that the RM was selling inedible salt at a black-market rate. “As a result, 300 quintals of salt is still in stock,” Manyal said. Ward No 3 Chair Samundra Singh Karki said locals were forced to buy the salt from local traders at Rs 50 per packet as both the government agencies failed to sell their salt.

Dhangadi Corporation said it would be difficult to transport salt as per quota if the salt dispatched to Darchula was not sold on time. “If the salt is not transported within the deadline of two months, we will have to take action against the contractor though he is not guilty,” Pandey said.

Nine districts in Province 7 consume 175,000 quintals of salt in a year. Around 80 per cent people consume iodised salt in Darchula.