Siliguri, Aug. 13: The state government will start distributing food items to people at 11 centres across the hills from tomorrow, the second day of a janata curfew in the hills.
“The distribution will be made from police stations, police outposts, block development offices or panchayat offices. Our plan is to start the delivery of essential items from 10am tomorrow and provide rations to the last person in the queue. The distribution will continue till ration shops open in the hills,” north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb said today.
The announcement was made after a meeting of Deb, food minister Jyotipriya Mullick, home secretary Basudeb Banerjee and senior police and administrative officials in Siliguri.
The outlets will be opened at Garidhura, Rohini, Panighata, Dudhia, Mirik, Soureni, all in Kurseong subdivision, Bijonbari, Sukhiapokhri, both in Darjeeling subdivision, Gorubathan, Pedong, and Algara, located in Kalimpong subdivision.
Of these 11 places, Garidhura, Panighata, Rohini, Dudhia and Gorubathan are closer to the plains and may be easier for the government to access.
Deb said the distributors had already been directed to despatch the items like rice, wheat and kerosene to the 11 centres from tonight.
“If everything goes according to plan, we will start the distribution from 10am tomorrow. The food minister and I will visit all the locations to oversee the distribution which will be similar to the PDS. The families in the hills can avail themselves of the items by showing ration cards.”
“We have adequate stock of foodgrains for the distribution. Further, we plan to open a godown in Siliguri on an interim basis for storing food grains to meet any contingency in Siliguri or the Dooars. In case, there is an indefinite strike in the hills or the Dooars, we can load the food grains onto trucks and reach them in the affected areas with police escort,” said Mullick.
Today’s meeting also resolved to operate more buses of the North Bengal State Transport Corporation in the hills.
“Today, we ran five buses to the hills and tomorrow, the number will increase. Buses which move along the foothills will be asked to take turnaround routes so that more areas can be covered,” said Deb, who is also the chairman of the NBSTC.
He said officials of the transport department had been asked to hold talks with the owners of light private vehicles to resume the services.