Oct. 17: Bengal has put the bulk of the blame for the ration crisis on the Centre and asked it to increase its allocation of rice and wheat.
In a letter to Union agriculture and consumer affairs minister Sharad Pawar, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has said a slash in the allocation from April has led to the disruption of the public distribution system in the state.
Rice allocated to the state for people above the poverty line was reduced to 7,700 tonnes a month from around 2.3 lakh tonnes. The allocation of wheat was cut to half from around 1 lakh tonnes a month, the chief minister said.
“This has led to a situation where the state government is unable to allocate... rice as per scale to the APL (above poverty line) beneficiaries and has also resulted in some districts getting allocations of 20 to 30 tonnes of rice a month.”
Bhattacharjee said the Centre’s quota slash had compelled the government to scale down distribution of wheat to 250 grams per head per week.
However, the Centre’s decision alone could not have triggered the crisis across south Bengal. The chief minister briefed Left Front leaders about the dismal state of ration shop monitoring today. “He said shop-level monitoring committees had not even been constituted at many places,” said front chairman Biman Bose.
A meeting Bhattacharjee held with the finance, panchayat, food and civil supplies and agriculture ministers decided that block development and subdivisional officers will jointly inspect ration shops with food department personnel.
CPM dealer defence
Hundreds of CPM supporters armed with scythes, daggers, axes and rods today prevented a mob from looting a ration shop at Bohar village in Burdwan’s Memari. The mob, which demanded Rs 2,000 per card from Abdul Rafiq, was chased out of the village
One of the villagers, Ibrahim Mullick, was admitted to Memari Hospital, 85km from Calcutta. “I was hit with rods and sticks,” he said.
“If the attacks continue, we will resist,” said Sukanta Konar, the CPM’s Memari zonal committee secretary.