Nearly five thousand empty sugar packets, supplied by the Jharkhand government to the below poverty line (BPL) families under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), were found in the jungles of Latehar district, pointing towards rampant corruption in the public distribution system (PDS).
Cattle herders who were grazing cattle near Maila River in Manika block’s Patna village first noticed thousands of empty sugar packets flowing in the river on Monday morning.
“When I reached there to graze my cattle, I found empty bags of sugar thrown everywhere on the riverside and in water. I immediately called villagers and starting collecting them,” Lakshman Singh, one of the villagers who discovered the packets, said.
The Jharkhand government provides 2 kg packed white sugar to each family every month. It is suspected that unscrupulous ration dealers might have siphoned off 1 kg packets to supply into the black market.
“The villagers themselves collected over 1,000 empty packets. Nearly 5,000 can be seen littered over a 4 km stretch along the river. We suspect many more may have reached the Kathotia Dam, which is just 6 km from here,” said Prabhu Ram, a panchayati raj elected representative of the area.
Residents also said they had not been supplied with sugar since January. “We demanded sugar but were denied by the local PDS dealer,” said Rambriksha Oraon, a villager.
On learning of the discovery, Latehar deputy commissioner Pramod Kumar Gupta asked the Manika BDO to immediately lodge an FIR against those involved. “An FIR against unknown persons has been lodged with the Manika police station,” said Gupta.