The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ration for estates on Delhi radar
- Bengal takes lead in tea worker benefit

Darjeeling, Sept. 19: The Centre and the state government are looking to issue ration cards to tea garden workers under the proposed West Bengal Public Distribution System (Special Provision for tea gardens) Order 2006.

The draft order, a copy of which is in the possession of The Telegraph, has been sent to T. Nandkumar, the Union food and public distribution secretary, by S.L. Bhakat, the head of district distribution at the state procurement and supply department.

If agreed on by both sides, the order will make Bengal the first state to implement the Targeted Public Distribution System to supply foodgrain to tea workers and also issue them ration cards. Till date, tea gardens across the country have been kept out of the public distribution system (PDS) and it is the statutory obligation of the gardens to provide foodgrain at subsidised rates.

Part-II, clause 1 of the proposed order states “A tea garden worker or any of his/her dependants shall apply in Form TGR-1 to the Inspector, Food and Supplies, for the issuing of above poverty line (APL) ration cards. Such applications have to be endorsed by the respective tea garden authorities. After causing necessary enquiry, the inspector-in-charge of the garden, having satisfied with the particulars furnished by the applicant, shall issue APL ration cards within one month from the date of receipt of application”.

Garden managers will also have to apply to the respective subdivisional controller of food and supplies for the granting of licence (for fair price shop) within two months from the date of notification of the order. The licence will remain valid initially for a period of two years and thereafter will have to be renewed very year for a fee of Rs 100. Fair price shop owners will have to furnish a security deposit of Rs 5,000. Suppliers will have to furnish a security deposit of Rs 20,000 in the form of bank guarantee or national saving certificate pledged in favour of the Governor of Bengal.

The order maintains that “suppliers and fair price shop owners shall not claim any margin of profit and/or transport rebate/reimbursement of transportation charges from the authority”. PDS suppliers are entitled to transportation rebate.

The fair price shop owners will distribute foodgrain to the workers every week. At present the garden management distributes the same every fortnight.

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