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Empty vessels raise ration cry

Nearly 500 underprivileged women, some of them beating empty utensils with sticks, marched to the district collectorate on Monday to protest against anomalies in ration card distribution.

The protesters had earlier assembled at Aam Bagan grounds in Sakchi under the banner of Mahila Jagriti Manch and discussed ways to step up their agitation for ration cards without which they could not avail of public distribution system benefits.

They then marched towards the district collectorate and demonstrated there for nearly 40 minutes against non-inclusion of actual beneficiaries’ names in the list prepared by state food and civil supply department. Later, they submitted a memorandum to deputy collector (nazarat) D.K. Tiwary and East Singhbhum’s special officer (rationing) Anil Kumar Rai.

State president of Mahila Jagriti Manch Alpana Bose said they had received complaints that a number of their members, hailing from BPL families, were not enjoying benefits under the public distribution system and Annapurna Yojana (a scheme for destitute and elderly persons).

“We conducted a survey earlier this year and found that the names of many beneficiaries are not on the BPL list. We then planned to raise our grievances before the administration,” said Bose.

The Manch’s block incharges were asked to bring women who have been denied the benefits to the agitation. Several women also brought utensils and sticks.

“We beat the bartans with sticks to send a message to the administration that our vessels were empty owing to their fault. If no action is taken, we will be forced to undertake further agitation,” said Geeta Devi, state secretary of the Manch.

The members claimed that the photographs of their family members had been taken during a survey carried out by the government in 2010-11. However, they are yet to get foodgrains as they don’t have ration cards.

Under the BPL yojana, a family is entitled to 35kg of foodgrains at the rate of Rs 1 per kg. Under Annapurna Yojana, a destitute and an elderly person receives Rs 10kg of free foodgrains.

Special officer (rationing) Anil Kumar Rai said the last survey was done in 2010-2011 for BPL beneficiaries and around 55,000 ration cards had already been distributed.

“We have asked the agitators to submit us the list of names that have been left out. We will match it with our list of beneficiaries and forward it to the state government for inclusion of names. It is not in our hands and we will have to abide by government directives, ” Rai added.