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Home / West-bengal / Mamata govt asks ration dealers to start pilot project on Duare Ration from September 15

Mamata govt asks ration dealers to start pilot project on Duare Ration from September 15

The scheme, which she had promised ahead of the Assembly polls, is likely to benefit the ruling party in regions like Jungle Mahal and north Bengal
Mamata Banerjee

Pranesh Sarkar   |   Calcutta   |   Published 28.08.21, 02:09 AM

The Mamata Banerjee government on Friday asked ration dealers in the state to start a pilot project on Duare Ration (ration on the door steps) from September 15 amid demands from them to increase their commission to run the scheme smoothly.

“The food and supplies department held a meeting with various organisations of the ration dealers. They have been asked to start the pilot project from September 15. The dealers have some demands, which would be looked into,” said a senior government official.

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Sources said the dealers had been informed that 15 per cent of the 22,000odd ration dealers would take part in the pilot project. Based on the experience of the pilot project, the government wants to launch the scheme in a larger part of the state during the festive season in October.

The scheme, a pet project of the chief minister which she had promised ahead of the Assembly polls, is likely to benefit the ruling party in regions like Jungle Mahal and north Bengal, where a large section of people need to travel a long way to collect food-grains from ration shops.

“The Trinamul Congress is trying to strengthen its base in these areas ahead of the 2023 panchayat polls and the 2024 Lok Sabha polls through the scheme. The BJP had won some seats in these areas in the last Assembly polls. Trinamul might turn the tables if the scheme is launched successfully,” said a source.

While the scheme would actually help several poor people as they face trouble to reach ration shops located at faraway places and carry the food-grains back to their houses, implementing the scheme would be easier said than done.

The ration dealers flagged several practical problems and demanded support from the government before launching the pilot project.

“The dealers demanded that they be given commission of Rs 200 per one quintal foodgrains and another Rs 40 per quintal for packaging, which is quite high compared to what they get these days — Rs 75 a quintal,” said a source.

The amount demanded by the dealers, sources said, is considered to be quite high as it could cost the state exchequer nearly Rs 3,000 crore every year. “The government has proposed to give Rs 75 a quintal in addition to their existing commission of Rs 75 a quintal. But the dealers are refusing to accept the government proposal,” said an official.

Ration dealers have said they want a better commission and the additional packaging fee only because they have to spend a handsome amount to reach the consumers.

“We need to engage more workers and hire vehicles to carry the food-grains to villagers’ doorsteps. If we are not compensated, the scheme cannot run,” said a ration dealer from North 24-Parganas.

According to some dealers, the government had initiated a similar effort in early July in some areas where traders had reached the doorsteps of consumers.

“All ration dealers had pointed out that they incurred a loss of Rs 3,500 to Rs 4,000 during the exercise. If our commission is not hiked and packaging charges are not given, the additional expenditure cannot be covered,” said another ration dealer.

Some ration dealers also demanded that the government arrange for vehicles to carry the foodgrains to the villages from where they could distribute grains.

Biswambhar Basu, national general secretary of All India Fair Price Shop Dealers’ Federation, said they hoped the government would consider their demands.

“We will take part in the pilot project even if the government does not give us additional commission to prove that we can do it. But the state has to consider our demands if it wants to run the scheme properly,” said Basu.



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