iconimg Thursday, September 03, 2015

Amitava Banerjee , Hindustan Times
Kolkata, August 16, 2013
The political strife in Darjeeling turned into a war over foodgrains as the state tried to counter the ongoing indefinite bandh and public curfew of the GJM by distributing foodgrains through the PDS from 11 points in the Hills. However, there were hardly any takers for this.

Dubbing the bandh as “anti people”, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had said the common man is facing difficulties over buying food.

Immediately the GJM started distributing vegetables and foodgrains in the Hills.

The free vegetable trucks drew huge crowds.

In an administrative meeting in Siliguri, the state government decided that foodgrains would be distributed through the PDS from 11 points in the Hills.

The points earmarked in the Kurseong sub-division included BDO office in Kurseong, Cinchona plantation at Latpanchar, Jagadamba temple at Rohini, police outpost at Garidhura, Mirik Police Station, local gram panchayat offices at Soureni and Panighatta.

In the Kalimpong sub-division, the distribution points included Gorubathan police station and Pedong police outpost.

In the Darjeeling sub-division, the distribution points were the police stations at Bijanbari and Sukhiapokhari.

According to records, 1.6 kg of rice at the rate of R 7/- per kg and 1kg of flour at the rate of Rs. 6.70p was being handed out to each adult ration cardholder.

At around noon the distribution centre at Sukhiapokhari police station, 20 km from Darjeeling town bore an empty look with hardly any takers.

A CRPF personnel stood guard near the rice and flour sacks.

The picture was somewhat the same at Bijanbari, 28km from Darjeeling town.

District magistrate Puneet Yadav said this was an attempt by the state government to ensure than no one faces any foodgrain crisis even in remote areas.

“The PDS will remain open on Independence Day in the Hills also owing to this unnatural situation.” The DM claimed that by 1pm around 128 adult cardholders had collected foodgrains from Sukhiapokhari.

While 381 adult and 51 minor cardholders collected ration at Garidhura, 118 families collected ration at Panighatta.

Another interesting event was the sudden arrival of 22 vehicles.

On arriving at Chowk Bazar, the passengers, seemingly from the plains alighted, looked around and left after some time.

“We are TMC supporters from the plains and have come to distribute foodgrains,” said Nageswar Prasad. When asked as to whether the foodgrains were from the TMC, Prasad said the grains were from the state government.

When questioned as to how TMC supporters are distributing government foodgrains, DM Yadav said, “Foodgrains are being distributed from the 11 points only and it is a government programme.”

Reacting to the government’s sudden PDS distribution and the TMC’s food adventure, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said, “The public will not accept foodgrains from anti-Gorkhaland forces. They have their pride. By doing all this the TMC has become a laughing stock.”